Wednesday, April 17, 2013

selling sushi at the local market

Cambridge Bay held another community sale this Saturday, this informal market where people can sell their goods. Inuit ladies sell bannock and beautiful sewing. Artists sell their carvings made of muskox horn. Mothers selling used baby clothes and toys or Christian rock cassette tapes. As Cambridge Bay’s resident Korean-Canadian, I decided that Rob and I should sell some of our kimbap – Korean-style sushi hosomaki rolls.

Well, it turns out sushi is pretty popular in Cambridge Bay. I guess I should have figured it out, since people love seafood up here and people aren’t squeamish about eating uncooked fish like the way some people are down south. When I let it slip that we were planning to sell sushi at the sale, we were getting inquiries for pre-orders a week before the actual sale.

Rob and I spent all morning making maki rolls by hand. It wasn’t exacly like the kimbap that my mother used to make, because we couldn’t get some of the ingredients. Instead, we used Arctic char, crab, and tuna, with healthy and colourful filling like cucumber, avocado, peppers, and carrots. We were rolling till the last minute – it was noon by the time we rushed to the elementary school gym where the market was, armed with our plates of sushi, my hands still smelling like fish.

To my amazement, we barely had the chance to set our goods out on the table before a lineup had formed of curious and hungry visitors. The sushi was selling fast. One man bought a plate, and then returned to buy another, complaining that his wife just didn't know how to spread wasabi.  Another woman, when we didn't have enough change to give her for her purchase of two plates, decided to go ahead and just buy three plates instead. Within minutes, I decided to leave Rob at the table so I could go home and roll some more sushi.

By the time I returned to the sale with more sushi, I couldn’t see Rob at all. Where had he gone? Where our table had been, there was instead a pile of small Inuit children. That’s when I discovered that Rob was under the pile of small children. We had sold out our entire supply of sushi in an hour, but the kids were still curious.

Rob had gotten them to try a taste of wasabi, probably more for his own amusement than theirs, and now as I approached the kids wanted me to fall for the same trick. They were charming and cunning, and I barely made it out alive.

“I dare you to take a big bite of this,” one little boy said.
“No,” I replied, because I have tried it before.
“I double dare you to do it,” he said again.
“No,” I repeated.
“I double-dog dare you to do it,” one little boy said.
“I double-dog dare you to put it in your eye,” I retorted.
The boy blinked. ”That’s child abuse!”
I suppose it is. I’m glad these kids know their rights.

“Are you from China?” one of the smaller girls asked me.

I had a flashback of Africa. “No,” I answered, and wondered if these kids would start to think I had a one word vocabulary.

The little boy pointed to the girl. “Look!” he said. “She got big eyes like you, China!”

The little girl did have big eyes, although I have never been told in my life that I have big eyes myself. That was definitely a first. “Maybe she’s really surprised all the time,” I pondered.

“No!” the boy insisted. “She just have big eyes!”

Confusingly, he then turned to my husband, who is white. “You have small eyes like China,” he told Rob.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard that too,” Rob answered.

By the time we were finished with the sale, we had sold every single plate we had made, within an hour, except for one plate that we gave to the small children, so they could experience the wonders of sushi. And also, to give Rob a chance to escape. I’d say it was all a great big success.