Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer trove "Seomun Market"

Summer Trove "Seomun Market"

In Daegu, there's a bustling treasure trove for people who value their money’s worth: the Seomun Market - always replete with the lively colors and shapes of summer fruits and fashion.

Seomun market tells of a proud history that dates back from the ancient Joseon dynasty. It is one of Korea's oldest markets, establishing itself as one of the major commercial niche in Daegu.

It is divided into several districts, including those for dried seafood, food items, fabrics, clothing and accessories, kitchenware, and china. The Ajin shopping district is where artisans flock, for it boasts of a wide array of home furnishings, crafts, and traditional souvenir items. Those who are ardent about the latest but affordable fashion can always choose from the ample selection at the Myungpoom Plaza and Dongsan shopping district. There's always a lively assortment of everything for everyone - artists, designers, gourmets, and frugal shoppers out for a bargain.

The passageways between the shops are also a lively confluence of flavors, aroma, and colors. On the sides are food stalls selling kalkuksu (or knife noodles), kimbap, shiat hotteok (hot bun stuffed with sugar and sunflower seeds), yangnyeom odeng (fish cake), and fresh fruit juices.

In one of my recent trips there, I spotted a queue of people in front of a stall in the middle alley. The stall is loaded with boxes of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. 

The stall owner’s name is Ian; the juice extractor his most essential utensil for the merchandise that is on a plump demand during the hot days of summer. He slices the fruits in half, puts them on the extractor, and wrings the juice into plastic cups with ice. Customers can choose to have some “cider” added for zest. 

In Korea, cider is not the typical pressed apple juice. Rather, it’s the lemon-lime flavored soft drink that tastes like Sprite or 7-Up. I don’t know how it got the name. Perhaps, it was derived from the famous local brand Chilsung Cider. And with a little twist of cider, the lemonade I had was a perfect thirst quencher. 

I also sat on one of the stalls along these food alleys to try one of Koreans’ go-to food: kalkuksu. Trying out the kalkuksu is one great traditional food experience. What makes this unique is that the wheat flour dough is not spun nor pulled; it is simply rolled out thinly and cut in long strips. The noodle is typically served with broth, made with dried anchovies, kelp and shellfish. Then it comes garnished with green onions, sesame seeds, vegetable strips, and Korean red pepper flakes. 

Seomun Market brims with a lot of stories – of people, of culture and traditions, and even of history. Ian and the kalkuksu lady are among the aggregate of features that make Seomun into one amazing treasure trove - one of Daegu’s windows into the Korean soul.

1 comment:

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