Monday, March 05, 2012

Dinner Planning and Pansori

The Artist was coming to visit, which seemed an exciting occurrence, at least for me. I called her.

“Do you like seafood?”

“Of course.”

“Are you allergic to anything I should be aware of?”


“Cool. I’m going to make a seafood dinner.”

That was the idea I got in my head. I wanted a gigantic seafood dinner. I wanted it to be lavish and tasty and delicious and the best way to do that was to go and get fresh seafood at the best market in town. I’m a huge fan of Chilseong Market, which was one of the oldest markets in Daegu and the place to go if you wanted to buy fresh food and support the local economy.

Chilsung is technically oriented along where the old wall of the city would be near the Sincheon River. It almost never closed, and on the few occasions when it did you could almost certainly still find some ajjumas on the street selling things in front of closed stalls. It had everything you could want to buy, from fresh meat to fresh vegetables, and all the seafood you can think of in between. Seafood was my goal. I had made an earlier trip to the market and picked up fresh vegetables to go along with the meal, so what I really needed was fish and stuff.

Then it came to me.

I wish it had not come into my mind, but the more I thought about it the more I could not shake the thought.

I wanted crab.

I knew as soon as it came into my head that it was going to be bad. However, the thought was there, and it did not seem to be interested  in going anywhere else. I wanted crab. For this, I frequently blame the Bard and her infamous Mountain of Crab Night (just thinking about it makes me realize that I may not actually have written about Mountain of Crab Night, which is going to take some correcting at some point). As it was I wanted crab.

Mission in mind, I decided I would get an assortment of fish. I would get some clams and mussels and shrimp. And then I would get some crab. For most of what I wanted I knew right were to head. It was the crab that was going to be a problem, because I could not for the life of me think of where to go to get a nice bunch of crab, but I figured in Chilseong I’d have a good chance of finding it.

When I got to the market I started with my favorite fishmonger and got the mussels. I worked my way into the market to look for other things on my shopping list. After picking up a nice bunch of shrimp I ran inexplicably into a gigantic pansori concert going on in the market.

Pansori is a popular form of drumming and sing chanting in a very traditional Korean way. For some readily unapparent reason there was not one, but two entirely different pansori troops and they were on either side of the market. Both sets where banging their hearts out. One group had taken over my favorite mushroom stall, pulled the ajjuma up onto the table, and were dancing like crazy. The Koreans, however, even for all the amusement that was an impromptu pansori concert, still stopped to stare at me taking pictures of the show. At the second troop one of the gentlemen was wearing a plastic mask and carrying a strange toy gun. The whole thing was widely absurd and beautiful.

I danced and tripped along to the rhythmic chanting as I combed through the veggie and fish stalls to prepare for the meal. The show at one point started an echo-and-response challenge and I could hear the Koreans yelling at each other across the market as one group would start a staccato rhythm that would be taken up by the other troop further away. The troops seemed to circle about each other, play fighting in rhythm in the space across the market.

The ajjumas who were selling to me watched my nod and bop my head up and down and kept asking me, “Do you like it?” And I thought yes. Yes, I did. I thought it would be wonderful if more grocery stores had random pansori concerts.

However, I was on a mission and while momentarily distracted from that mission by the crazy atmosphere of a random afternoon concert, I would not lose myself too long in music.

The mission was on.

I needed crab.

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