Gwangju Blog

Fish Fry

Fish Fry


In the U.S.A and Canada, certain foods are easily equated with memories of Thanksgiving rituals from our youth. The mere sight of these foods, even in two-dimensional form can elicit that salivating mind/body reaction. Such images exist at the borders of anticipation of a full stomach, of the joyful process of being with good folks sharing the best of food. This past week was Chusok, the Korean Thanksgiving holiday. And, while no-doubt enjoying the break from worldly responsibilities, it is easy to reminisce about the foods we wish we could eat on Thanksgiving.

Turkey, potatoes, bacon, pumpkin pie set is likely off the menu locally. However, a local food along the southern coast may be poised to take its place. When down in Go-heung last week, I was greeted by the toasty scents of grilled fish and sesame. Impromptu fish fry stands had replaced many local market stalls. Over the grills, both young men and old women flipped and packed fish with stunning precision amidst thick clouds of smoke. Several layers of basting with salted sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds added to the heady aroma. The fish was local. However, many customers were apparently now. None of this fish was for sale. It had already been bought in pre-roasted bulk. Not pictured in the image above is the truck full of small wooden crates carrying fifty fish each, ready to be delivered to hungry families elsewhere in the province.

The image above shows a moment captured within the cacophony of sights of smells. It was no kitchen in rural Ontario, but had the sensorial similarities of Thanksgiving just the same. I left this market not with fish, but rather with a stomach full of ricecake and a sense that real Thanksgiving food can indeed cross oceans.


[Image taken with my Ricoh GR1 shooting Kodak Tri-x 400. I have spoken at length about both my love for this camera’s image quality, yet also my hate for its finicky mechanics and lack of direct iso control. However, with its 28mm f2.8 lens, the camera rarely fails to impart that sense of chaotic street life when photographing subjects in the near foreground.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)