Breakfast of Champions
Don’t get the wrong idea. This is not my everyday breakfast with Pastor Park’s wife. Today is Sunday and I took the day off from the SAP studio to spend a day with Hyun Mi, my hostess, and her extended church family. We had the special breakfast pictured above then went to church (from 11–2). Then after a change of clothes, 11 of us piled in the Tae Kwon Do master’s huge van (embellished with the school’s logo and address) and drove somewhere very far away on a super highway through a country side speckled with the occasional cluster of high-rises.
It was a field trip planned especially for me: a gigantic fresh fish market with hundreds of stalls. I could never have fathomed the scale of this operation. Fish were flopping, crabs were scrambling, octopi were suckering, and the sea slugs were far from sluggish. All sorts of inhabitants of the sea were being pickled in salt or salt and chili or dried into the shape of hand fans. I can now say I have seen and eaten a clam bigger than my head. I can now hope to eat prawns that were as long as my foot (US 6). It is something to live for.
I struggled along trying to keep up with my native guides as they explained to the fishmongers why this stupid lady was taking too many pictures. And then there was the constant tide of humanity. More humans than you could imagine were walking through each narrow aisle. Most of them were about the size and shape of my tae-kwon-do-church-family. Most of them were serious about fish. We get to the aisle of about 20-30 stalls all selling fish-shaped styrofoam trays covered with ice and daikon, and layers of sashimi cut from the fish that are flopping nearby. Hyun Mi buys two trays from the best of the stalls. Somewhere during the time there we buy various mollusks.
I see the sky, the roof has ended. We are outdoors and along the marina. The fish market is at a place called Sorae Pogu (pogu means port). People are sitting on the ground like a picnic eating the sashimi they bought. I think we might stop too, but we forge on, my hostess pointing and yelling the Korean names of sea beings along the way. and I parroting them with absolutely no retention.
My mind is blown. I mean blasted. Blasted to smithereens. Thankfully, I am lead back to the Tae Kwon Do mobile. We take the long ride inland and home to Seoksu Market. There we sit at another table three times the size of this morning’s table, and with three generations. Hyun Mi covers it with the souvenirs of our visit to the sea and the Pastor says grace.