Walk with me . . .

Warning: Pack lightly when traveling abroad. Leave ethnocentrism at home.
Cultural biased cataracts blur the view of many.

Come walk with me in Busan,
savoring South Korea’s largest fish market.

My eyes espy wriggling, clinging, squid and octopi.
Cartiliaginous skates with long dead eyes,
phallic shaped Gaebuls beside sea worms,
long slithering swarm-swimming eels.

I jerk back reflexively
as red knobby sea pineapple
squeezed slightly by seller,
shoots its swallowed water at me.

So many live fish, tank after tank,
humongous to small.
Dried. Pickled.
Crustaceons. Amphibians too.

Offered sannakji to eat,
small “baby” octopus barely chopped,
some not.
Dipped in sesame oil,  swallowed like that.

I would feel them
squirm down my throat.

I remind myself silently –
Things are not better. Things are not worse.
They’re just different.

Then politely I simply say,
no thank you
and smile . . .
and stroll away.

Sarah hosts Poetics today at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. She tells us about her love for visiting markets – especially when on holiday. It’s something we always do when visiting another country…..visit markets and grocery stores. It’s always so very interesting to experience culinary culture. And yes, Sarah wants us to go to market today!

Photos from our April trip where we did indeed visit the amazing fish market in Bousan. Over 500 booths — so many kinds of sea creatures!!!

35 thoughts on “Walk with me . . .

    • lillian June 11, 2019 / 3:16 pm

      Hmmmm….well you may dine on that morsel, my friend. Wriggling in the tank, the pan, landing it while fishing….all okay. But I don’t even care for sushi so really smiled politely and said “no thank you” on this S. Korean speciality. But very very interesting to learn about it. It’s all in what you grow up with and are used to. Acculturation.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Grace June 11, 2019 / 3:25 pm

    I have been to this kind of market and its a really a culinary experience. I love how fresh you can buy these stuff, right off the sea or the boats.

    Love the details Lillian and having grown up in Asia, I know how different this may look. But some are delicious when cooked. The photos are wonderful too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 11, 2019 / 3:34 pm

      Thank you, Grace. We spent at least a full hour there, wandering up and down the long aisles. I was glad I had rubber soled shoes….and it was just as fun to watch the people buying, checking out which one they picked, watching the sampling too! It was a marvelous excursion!


  2. kim881 June 11, 2019 / 3:25 pm

    Your travels are a rich source of inspiration, Lill, and I so enjoy reading about those faraway places, and looking at the photographs you’ve taken. Your poem is so packed with fish I can almost smell that market! I love the use of alliteration in the ‘long slithering swarm-swimming eel’ and the surprise in the stanza about the sea pineapple. I’m not sure if I could cope with baby octopus squirming down my throat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 11, 2019 / 3:36 pm

      Glad you enjoyed, Kim. And yes…..that’s why I politely declined the offer to dine on that wriggling sea creature. It truly is all in what you’re accustomed to…and whether you’re willing to try something really new. We did eat some seafood for the first time…but it was all cooked. I don’t really even care for sushi. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. adda June 11, 2019 / 3:42 pm

    I have not been to that part of the world with such a diverse and interesting a market place. Most of what you describe is visual, were there any sounds, or smells that were interesting too? Thank you for taking me to the market place with you. I too would have walk away….

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 11, 2019 / 7:15 pm

      Surprisingly no sounds except an occasional splash if a large fish was plopped back into a tank. I though for sure it would smell….but nope. Wide open walls inside this huge huge warehouse like place. An amazing place to see!


  4. sdtp33 June 11, 2019 / 3:51 pm

    This is so vivid, Lilian, I can smell the fish!, love the alliteration in this:
    “I jerk back reflexively
    as red knobby sea pineapple
    squeezed slightly by seller,
    shoots its swallowed water at me”
    Lots of music in the language throughout the poem..well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 11, 2019 / 7:16 pm

      Thank you! So very glad you enjoyed. It was quite an amazing place to visit!


  5. larry trasciatti June 11, 2019 / 5:01 pm

    My taste buds can’t handle anything quite that exotic, but I really like the imagery here. You make it seem so real

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 11, 2019 / 7:17 pm

      Oh it was very very real…..I never saw so many sea creatures and some of them just very odd looking or slimy or slithery!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Glenn Buttkus June 11, 2019 / 6:10 pm

    Perhaps, as a poet, and world traveler, you should write a book, illustrated with your photos. No one picks up the flavor of faraway places like a poet. You really blew my socks off with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 11, 2019 / 7:17 pm

      Hah! Well you’d definitely need socks and closed toed shoes, preferably with rubber soles, walking through this fish market! 🙂


  7. Truedessa June 11, 2019 / 9:27 pm

    I could almost feel the squirming of the fresh fish. I read your comment above that it didn’t smell fishy. My mind kept thinking it would smell. I would have to say no, thank you in a very polite manner. I cannot even eat sushi, I did, however, try it once.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 13, 2019 / 12:20 pm

      Ah…we are sympatico Truedessa….I do not care for sushi either. My daughter always says, well then have the vegetable sushi….and I always say, “Well…what’s the point? I can just eat a salad!” 🙂 But this market was truly amazing to wander around in!!!


  8. Imelda June 11, 2019 / 11:55 pm

    What a feast! This market is much more hip and cleaner and brighter than the market I knew as a child. This place is certainly a cook’s paradise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 13, 2019 / 12:21 pm

      ….it was very clean and bright and with good air circulation etc. A “cook’s paradise”….and do remember, many of these fish and sea creatures become sushi and/or are eaten raw…no cooking needed! Just a little cleaning and perhaps chopping or filleting !

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sabio Lantz June 12, 2019 / 2:10 pm

    Fun images of their wild markets. I remember them chopping up live octopus for a salad and the tentacles stuck to the roof of my mouth. Great pics and verbal images

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 13, 2019 / 12:22 pm

      Yup…..that’s what they do. Not for me…but truly amazing to see!


  10. Mary (tqhousecat) June 12, 2019 / 3:10 pm

    Interesting are the different palates of the world. I love your pictures. I would say no thank you, too, with a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 13, 2019 / 12:23 pm

      You’ve hit the nail on the head so to speak!!!! Different palates of the world….exactly! 🙂 And always fun to see and explore, not necessarily to actually taste it all. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 13, 2019 / 12:25 pm

      It was indeed amazing! And so many many aisles…we really enjoyed wandering and looking and peering into glass tanks and plastic buckets. We even saw very large live toads in one bucket. I think the eels were the ones that sort of gave me the heebie-jeebies just to see…but then I don’t like snakes so anything that looks like that and when there’s sooooo many slither-swarming in one glass tank….well, it was just amazing to see it all!


  11. calmkate June 13, 2019 / 2:35 pm

    that was a very graphic description of a market I’d not visit … love Korean food but only the vegetarian variety!


  12. Leif Price September 9, 2019 / 1:06 am

    The sights are awesome! And gorgeous market pics.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mathtuition88 October 4, 2019 / 5:59 am

    Cool! I learnt something from your poem, about sea pineapples. Before googling, I thought it was a reference to Spongebob Squarepants.


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