Market Memories


The skill that I definitely lost as I grew up was bargaining. After I stopped after living with my grandparents, it was no longer something I did habitually. Grandma would go to the street markets, see the prices, and never agree to them. 90% of the time, she was successful. We would come back from the market with ice cream if I behaved well that day.

The Italian market brought back these dusty memories deep inside of me. Cracked pavements, old shops that do not sell relevant things for life, and old people always coming to the same shop and buying the same thing. Because it was not a Korean market but an Italian market, the food was totally different. Every time I went in a grocery store, the strong smell of cheese would penetrate my nose with a hint of sausage. The endless piles of different noodles looked like they would have every kind of noodle in existence.

Even though the place was old, it still had a sizeable young population. Students were hanging around the area, children followed their parents, a big group of middle school students toured the market — it may have look dated, but the market was thriving inside.

I had disconnected from the market my grandmother used to go after I moved out from my grandparents’ home. I could not bring myself to reconnect with it; instead, I went to one closer to my new house. After school, my friends and I would go to the market to eat snacks and watch our neighbors buying spinach and bean sprouts for the dinner table. We grew up with the merchants, the snacks, and the time we spent in the marketplace. Any time I went back to my home, I would still visit the people working there while my friends hung out around the market, and now I help my mom instead of my grandmother with buying stuff from the market.

My own experiences are what I saw in the Italian market — young kids following their parents, teenagers hanging out with their friends, and youngsters coming back to their home, reminiscing about the old days. They were making the place alive, passing on the beautiful scene to the younger generations, making history.

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