Monday, 9 December 2013

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing…Elicia Shepard

Our latest expat guest blogger and foodie, Elicia Shepard, tells us five reasons why she loves shopping at her local open air market in Korea.

We live in Yeosu, South Korea. It’s the most beautiful little port city. One of the great things about it is that you can find an open air market with the freshest-of-fresh local foods almost anywhere. Seafood is the specialty in our city, and while we haven’t ventured quite that far to cook our own seafood yet, we shop at the local markets for all of our fruit and vegetables.

We call it “Market Monday’s.” It happens every single Monday after work. 5 o’clock hits, and you’ll find my husband and I strolling through the streets of our local market.  Let me tell you why I look forward to “Market Monday’s” every single week.

1.       Relationships with the locals

We have our banana lady, our salad lady, our “in season” fruit lady, and then our apple lady (just to name a few.) We have made market relationships. The smiles, the broken conversations in English, and “service” make it enough for me to want to come back every single week. Almost all of the Korean’s working the market stalls are elderly Korean women (known in Korean as “adjummas”). Since we have established a trusted and loyal customer status after going back to the same few ladies each week for months, we often receive (but never expect) what Koreans call free “service.” What this means is they’ll throw in a few (free) extra apples, oranges, plums or whatever they have that they feel like giving us. It’s a sweet gesture that makes me feel valued and appreciated as their customers. It keeps me coming back each Monday. I love my market ladies!

2.       Supporting the local economy

I’m living and loving Korea. I’d like to support the people who came before me. I like to support those who call Korea home. I like feeling I am a part of the community and also the country that I live in. By shopping at the local market I know that my money is going to a family instead of a corporation. Most likely it’s going to the family of an adjumma who is working at the market stall. We work hard for our money, and I like that it’s staying local. In Korea many of the gardens are family grown, and quite small. Which we of course love, and one of the reasons why we love keeping it local!

3.       What we buy is what’s in season

We’ve been in Korea for 6 months and I love that we have seen the fruits and vegetables change with the seasons. It’s been strawberry season, melon season, watermelon season, grape season, apple season, and currently persimmons are ripe. For the most part we buy what is in season. It’s what’s cheaper! We have also gotten to experience new fruits/vegetables that we have never seen in the Midwest United States. The Asian pear (a cross between a pear and an apple) is a new discovery to us! Persimmons were also new to us. We love trying new things, and it’s fun to follow the fruits and vegetables changing as the seasons change.

4.       It’s WAY cheaper than the big department stores
So our Korean adjummas never try to take more money than what the going rate at the market is. We get our food for pretty cheap! We also can ask them for smaller portions since we are just a family of two. They are always accommodating, and will give us less quantity for a cheaper and fair price. We’ve found some things to be half of the price than the fruit and vegetables at our local department stores (our other shopping options.) They don’t change the prices on their food. It stays consistent, and it’s 100% of the time cheaper than in the big stores.

5. It’s FRESH!
Our food comes straight from their local garden to the market. Into our bags, and then home. I have seen the ladies on city buses with the food from their garden for their market stall. Almost every time we go hiking I see Koreans working in their gardens. I see them load it up, and I have seen them carry it into their market stall for set up. There is usually tons of fruit/vegetables on display so you can pick what looks/feels most fresh to you. There is nothing better than food straight from a garden onto your plate. YUM.

I love shopping at our local market. I love the relationships we’ve established. I love keeping our money local when we shop at the markets. We buy/eat what’s in season. It’s much cheaper than the corporate shops. Most importantly, the food tastes delicious. It’s always fresh! We love knowing that it came from a local garden. I adore our “Market Monday’s.” If you can find a local market where you are living I would highly recommend checking one out. It’s always one of my highlights of the week, and I promise you that it’s an adventure that’s just waiting to be discovered.

About the author:
Elicia is a teacher, a go-getter, a lover of adventure, hiking, and island hopping. Leaving their comfortable life back in the USA for a new journey abroad- Elicia and her husband said "goodbye" to the their life stateside, and "hello" to adventure in South Korea. She's currently teaching English to over 300 kids in Korea. Discovering unknown places & people is an addiction she's proud of and will be an endless journey that she'll continues to seek. You can read about her adventures at and follow her @eliciameyer

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