Despite the unseasonable weather, spring has arrived in Calgary! On the recommendation of my fellow blogger, Jennifer Ma, I dropped by the Calgary Korean Association to check out their Spring Korean Food Market.
Even before I entered the building I could tell it was a busy affair! There were numerous cars parked nearby and groups of people heading in – which made it easy to find where I was going. Once inside, I was amazed to see (and smell!) the wide variety of Korean foods arranged around the perimeter of the room, and that there was already a crowd of people shopping and eating within.
There were numerous volunteers present who were easy to spot thanks to their black t-shirts, which said “Ask Me” on the back. As soon as I arrived one of them explained that I could buy tickets for $5 each and then exchange those tickets for food items. This made it quick and easy to buy what you wanted, which I greatly appreciated – although there were so many good options that I took a long time to decide!
I was also thankful for the warm kindness of the volunteers, who were courteous when serving items, ready and willing to answer questions, and even keen to provide helpful advice. One gentleman saw that I was considering the dessert selections and took the time to explain each one to me so that I could choose the item that was most appealing.
I had originally thought that there would only be items to take home, but it turned out that you could also buy food to eat right there. They had delicious options such as tteokbokki, ramen, kimchi, and kkwabaegi (twisted doughnuts) that you could enjoy immediately. I chose a serving of cup bulgogi that made for a very satisfying lunch. There were also two special drinks being offered – 수정과 (sweet cinnamon punch) or 식혜 (rice dessert drink). I chose the 식혜, which was sweet and satisfying.
A seating area had been set up in the middle of the market for those wanting to eat in the moment, and it was difficult to find a seat at first as every chair seemed to be full. However, it made me grateful to see the thriving Korean community in Calgary! There were many families, including small kids running around in delight, and it was obvious that many people knew each other.
As I was finishing my lunch I was approached by a man named Jaehyun who introduced himself and explained that he was a reporter for a Korean newspaper called This Time. He wished to interview me to find out what had brought me to the event and how I had originally become interested in Korean culture. I briefly shared my story and even had a chance to tell him about the Korea-Canada Blog!
I left feeling pleasantly full, happy, and with an armful of bags containing my selections from the market: japchae, bulgogi, gimbap, and beautifully made kkul tteok. The Spring Market was certainly a success on all sides!
The Spring Korean Food Market was hosted to raise funds for the Korean Day Festival, which will be held on August 18th in Calgary. You can find out more about the Calgary Korean Association via their website or Facebook page.