Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lost in Translation Essay - An Inviting Smell

When I was student, a dish of street food was an easy, cheap and tasty treat. I stopped frequently while I was working because of the smell that came from food trucks. To be exact, it is a food wagon, and the street was lined with snack stalls. I couldn’t avoid the sweet, spicy fragrance every time I passed in front of the food wagons. Since I came to Chicago three years ago, I have not experienced street food. My daughter is a fan of Korean food, so she often requires me to buy or cook Korean food. There is a Korean restaurant in Hyde Park, but it is expensive. If I was living in Korea, I wouldn’t need to make a snack and meal every time my daughter wanted it. I would just need to stop by a food wagon for a couple of minutes. Now that I am in Chicago, it is difficult to live any more as a street food mania due to the differences of street food culture.

There is a variety of street food in Korea that hot noodles, soup, Korean rice cakes, fried vegetable, and Gimbap, Korean sushi. Food wagons look like a table covered with delicious dishes.  I often stopped in front of the food wagon to fill my empty stomach because I couldn’t resist the smell of the food, so I yielded to temptation to eat it up. In contrast, there are a few types of street food in the United States. In fact, I have mostly seen the ones selling hot dogs, pretzels, and hamburgers. There is an annual food festival called Taste of Chicago and the other street festivals with great venders and trucks. These festivals are good chances for people to enjoy various foods outside, but they are held only during summer season.

 On the other hand, food wagons are ubiquitous in Korea. I often bought from food wagons due to their accessibility. I used to have breakfast at the food wagon selling sandwiches, milk and hot tea. Night time is the peak for food wagons in South Korea. Many food wagons come out at dusk on the streets to sell. They wait for businessmen or women to finish their work. After work, people have a drink with their colleagues in Po-Jang-Ma-Cha. It is the food wagon that serves various dishes with alcohol and looks like a big screen porch or tent for camping. Some places are open twenty-four hours a day. Since I arrived here, I tried to keep my eyes on the road when I was in a car or walked down on the street. However, it is difficult to find food trucks in Chicago. Some food trucks are in Hyde Park, but they are only open at lunch time. Also, food trucks are closed when college students are on break.

People make their memories and have a meal cheaply at snack stalls. My friends and I regularly fed our hunger in this place because it was the best way to have a meal with pocket money. A typical dish was only two to three dollars, and I didn’t need to pay tip. Also, these trucks have unforgettable memories for me. When I was a high school student, most high school students stayed in school until nine PM in Korea. My classmates and I were teenage girls who couldn’t satiate our appetite. We used to decide our supper by playing rock-paper-scissors. The loser went out of school secretly to buy Tteokbokki, stir fried rice cake. We got yelled at, but we couldn’t give up. Although I tried to find reasonable street food, I couldn’t have it. I have bought nachos for my kid from the food truck, but it was not a reasonable price.

In conclusion, street food is easy to find, delicious and inexpensive in Korea. Most people connect with food wagon in their life. They satiate their hunger easily, and they drown their sorrows in cheap alcohol at Po-Jang-Ma-Cha. However, I can’t experience any more Korean style street food in Chicago. I am no longer a chubby teenage girl or a poor student, but I really miss it. It means not only a good way for satisfy my cravings, but memories for me. Some day, I will find easy, cheap and tasty treat places to replace the street food in Chicago. 


  1. I feel hungry when I read your essay.In addition, it reminded me the same situation when I was in China. I like the street food because it is cheap and delicious.

  2. I love your essay, Misun! It's great to have this kind of memories. I have a friend from your country who sometimes cooks for me. Korean food is delicious! I wish to find unless one food wagon like you described in Chicago.

  3. I love Korea food and all the products. When I read your essay, I decided to travel to South Korea, I love the pictures you put in , street food must tastes very good.

  4. As a matter of fact, I have never tried any Korea food before. As soon as I finish reading your essay, I know that I have made a big mistake.

  5. I really want to try the Korean food, they look delicious. I want to travel the Korea.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.