Mishaps at the Mart

We now return to “Janine Does Something Silly Because of the Language Barrier.”

Host Mom, host aunt, and host nephews picked me up from school today so we could go to a Korean BBQ restaurant for dinner. On our way back to the apartment, we stopped by the mart next door. As we walked inside, Host Mom placed a basket in my hands and said something rapidly in Korean. The only word I understood was eumshig or “food” (which, based on context, should have been evident).

Okay, I thought. I guess she wants me to get some food I’d like to eat this week.

“For me to cook?” I asked, gesturing like I’m stirring a pot.

She responded in Korean, and I did not understand. But she didn’t shake her head no, so I assumed it was affirmative and I was cooking dinner tomorrow.

Given my limited cooking abilities, I walked toward the produce aisle and picked up some broccoli and carrots. Then I put some noodles in my basket and figured I could make something out of that. Hmm…why was Host Mom laughing so much?

Host Mom gestured toward another aisle. “Gwaja?” she asked. Cookies?

Kenchanayo,” I answered. No, it’s okay!

“Ice cream?”

“No…no thank you!”

She picked up a candy bar and insisted, “Chocolate?”


She put the chocolate bar next to my noodles, broccoli and carrots. The cashier rang up the purchase, and my host aunt and nephews came up behind us with their basket. It was full of cookies, candy, and chips.

Then I realized that Host Mom wanted me to buy snacks. And I bought broccoli.

I really need to brush up on my food-related vocabulary.


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