87 pages 2 hours read

Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2021

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Important Quotes

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“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 our suburban kitchens, and we re-create the dish that couldn’t be made without our journey. What we’re looking for isn’t available at a Trader Joe’s. H Mart is where your people gather under one odorous roof, full of faith that they’ll find something they can’t find anywhere else.”

(Chapter 1, Page 10)

Zauner’s description of H Mart sets it apart as a place of cultural contact for many Asian immigrants. For her, it’s more than a grocery store; it is a place to reconnect with and remember her mother, her time in Seoul, and her love of traditional Korean foods.

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“Some of the earliest memories I can recall are of my mother instructing me to always ‘save ten percent of yourself.’ What she meant was that, no matter how much you thought you loved someone, or thought they loved you, you never gave all of yourself. Save 10 percent, always, so there was something to fall back on.”

(Chapter 2, Page 18)

This quote is one of the cornerstones of Zauner’s writing about her mother Chongmi. One of the memoir’s central threads is the journey toward understanding that Zauner undergoes while her mother is ill and after she has passed. Along this journey, Zauner realizes that her mother withheld 10% of herself from her daughter too.

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“I came to realize that while I struggled to be good, I could excel at being courageous. I began to delight in surprising adults with my refined palate and disgusting my inexperienced peers with what I would discover to be some of nature’s greatest gifts.”

(Chapter 2, Page 23)

Zauner’s love of food is wrapped up in a childhood spent attempting to please her mother and her Korean family members, and she depicts it here as one of her fundamental character traits. Her courage allows her to connect with her mother, something that otherwise eluded her thanks to her mother’s strict parenting style.