87 pages 2 hours read

Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2021

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Chapters 1-4

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “Crying in H Mart”

The memoir opens with Zauner confessing that she has been crying in H Mart ever since her mother died. She describes the images that are common to the Asian grocery store, which evoke memories of her mother at the kitchen table or shopping for traditional Korean foods. Zauner wonders if she is still Korean if she no longer has access to her mother’s wealth of knowledge. Her mother’s love was expressed to her through food, and now Zauner feels grief and anger when she sees families or older women enjoying their lives at a store that caters to her Asian culture.

Zauner goes on to describe the typicalities and cultural signposts of an H Mart. They are most often situated on the outskirts of town in neighborhoods that have signs in Korean or Chinese, in a shopping complex that caters specifically to Asian customers. Zauner’s H Mart is in Elkins Park near Philadelphia, and she visits weekly, stocking up for the week and picking out something fresh for that evening. The food court has stalls for many specialty dishes from across Asia, including sushi, ramen, and tteokbokki. Zauner loves to people-watch in the food court, and she wonders how many people there miss their families.