H Mart tour in Tigard
In a popular first of its kind tour, 16 Portland Metro Area Educators Retired met at the Tigard H Mart, a Korean and Asian grocery store, to learn more about Asian food. After a tour with Marleen Wallingford and a meal at a Thai stand inside the store, they left satisfied and ready to return.
The “H” in H Mart, Marleen told the group, stands for Han Ah Reum (한아름), a Korean phrase roughly meaning “one arm full of groceries.”
If you haven't been to H Mart, we scoured the web for the best article that will prepare you for the experience. You can read the article “9 Things You Should Know Before Shopping at H Mart for the First Time” published last year.
The group also learned from Marleen about Crying In H Mart, a 2021 memoir by Michelle Zauner. Zauner was at a book signing event at Powells when it was released in 2021. She returns to Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square for two sold-out performances on Saturday, August 16.
She is the lead vocalist of Japanese Breakfast, an American indie pop band, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2022 for Best New Artist and Best New Album.
From a review posted on Powell's Books website:
In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band — and meeting the man who would become her husband — her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.
Portland Metro Area Educators Retired has an annual book sharing fest, and for those of you looking for good reads, here is an excerpt as well as an audio link from Zauner's memoir:
Ever since my mom died, I cry in H Mart. For those of you who don’t know, H Mart is a supermarket chain that specializes in Asian food. The “H” stands for han ah reum, a Korean phrase that roughly translates to “one arm full of groceries.” H Mart is where parachute kids go to get the exact brand of instant noodles that reminds them of home. It’s where Korean families buy rice cakes to make tteokguk, a beef soup that brings in the new year. It’s the only place where you can find a giant vat of peeled garlic, because it’s the only place that truly understands how much garlic you’ll need for the kind of food your people eat. H Mart is freedom from the single-aisle “ethnic” section in regular grocery stores.
Rob Melton |