Today I finally went to the huge open farmer’s market near my apartment. It was a bit like stepping back in time with old wooden carts and sellers crouched around fires to keep warm while trimming root vegetables. It was strange to feel like I was out in the middle of nowhere just steps from a subway station and two blocks from a Dunkin Donuts & Quiznos. I was reminded immediately of the markets in Honduras and Nicaragua with the barrels of beans and stacks of potatoes. Only this market also had piles of seaweed & dried fish and more cabbage than I have ever seen.
These are fresh sesame leaves; they have a touch of mint to their flavor and are delicious when served with galbi and used instead of lettuce to wrap your meat & rice.
I also walked a few miles to the next big neighborhood over and for the first time was glad to return to my own neighborhood and be living where I am. I am not very centrally located in Seoul and each time I’ve visited friends elsewhere in the city I have grown green with envy at their bustling, cosmopolitan neighborhoods which do not require two subway transfers for them to get to. But my neighborhood is growing on me more and more everyday and it was a pleasure to come home and feel…well…at home.
I’ve been in Korea one month today. As the typical travel time warp would have it, it feels much much longer.