In the essay titled "Crying in H Mart," Zauner, who grew up in Eugene, writes about how the Korean grocery mecca stirs up memories of her mother, who was Korean and recently died of cancer. The essay also mentions plenty of delicious Korean food, like chewy, spicy tteokbokki and and gooey jajangmyeon. It is an essay that will tug on your heart strings and leave you very, very hungry—and serves as an excellent preview for when Portland finally gets its own H Mart this fall.
Zauner's essay talks about how wandering the aisles of H Mart has become emotional after her mother's death, even more so than remembering what it was like to sleep in hospitals and watch her mom's hair fall out. Zauner writes about H Mart like it's a refuge:
We sit here in silence, eating our lunch. But I know we are all here for the same reason. We’re all searching for a piece of home, or a piece of ourselves. We look for a taste of it in the food we order and the ingredients we buy. Then we separate. We bring the haul back to our dorm rooms or suburban kitchens, and we re-create a dish that couldn’t be made without that journey, because what we’re looking for isn’t accessible at a Trader Joe’s. H Mart is where you can find your people under one odorous roof, where you can have faith that you’ll find something you can’t find anywhere else.
Portland is getting an H Mart later this year. The supermarket chain signed a lease on Zupan's former Southeast Belmont location last year, and is set to open sometime this fall. Currently, you have to drive all the way out to the chain's Beaverton location if you need tteok or a vat of kimchi.
Read Zauner's full essay here.