Welcome to my little piece of the web. I’m a Canadian lady that lives for food, coffee, and adventures. These days I’m taking on the world as EFL teacher in rural South Korea, a pit-stop (albeit off-track) to becoming a market gardener and writer.
From simple recipes, to travel tips, to the expat lifestyle, Chatfish is an opportunity for me to share my love of food, travelling, and life–and how I get the most out of all these things without breaking the bank.
Why Chatfish? My name in Korean–Maggie/메기–means “catfish,” and my Korean friends nicknamed me accordingly. But when I moved to Korea, my English friends noted my habit of talking a lot and renamed my “Chatfish.” The perfect name for my online ramblings.
My Food Story
Like most humans, I eat. I live not only for the enjoyment of delicious food, but the satisfaction of growing it myself, the pleasure of cooking for others, and the fight for a more sustainable and accessible food system.
Since I was barely tall enough to reach the top of the counter, I’ve been drawn to food. As a youngin, I was a terribly picky eater. I didn’t eat meat, sauce, dressing, or anything “too strong.” I lived off of fruit, vegetables, rice, and pizza. My dad got fed-up with trying to make lunches for me pretty quick, so I started to engaging with food beyond just consuming it early on.
When I was eight, I started baking simple treats like cookies, cakes, and cooking easy dishes like pasta and vegetables. As I grew older, my pickiness disappeared, and I became more interested in healthy eating. I expanded my cooking adventures to make more things from scratch and explore foods from other cultures
It wasn’t until university, however, that food became such an integral part of my identity. I started a backyard garden and realized my dream to become a market gardener. I got into food processing and preserving. I started taking food related courses in school and workshops in the community, and doing food systems research for my professors. I travelled to Cuba and wrote an extensive research paper on the ways in which Cuba resists the global industrial food paradigm. I spent the summer WOOFing in the Northwest Territories. I eventually wrote my thesis on the micro/macro power dynamics involved in the food system in the NWT, and how an amazing organization called the Northern Farm Training Institute is addressing these dynamics.
My Travel Story
From Northern Canada to South Korea, and the East Sea and West Virginia, I’ve had the privilege of travelling a number of places around this tiny little marble we call home in the Milky Way.
My travels have only strengthened my passion for exploring and learning. I gravitate towards immersive experiences–living and working (or studying) for an extended period of time. Not only have I found this to be more affordable–and in the case of teaching in Korea, quite profitable–it also gives me the opportunity to connect with a new culture on a deeper level, and expand my own community on a global scale.
With the exception of a couple trips to United States, I never really travelled until 2010, when I swapped a summer of camp for a chance to travel around Korea for a month with my best friend. Travelling a country with a native has major advantages, and I was hooked on immersive travelling. Two years later, I ditched my final semester of highschool (kind of) to live and teach in Ecuador for three months.
Leaving home for high school wasn’t enough, so I decided to move to the other side of the country, to study Community Development and English at St. Francis Xavier University in beautiful Nova Scotia. And when my thesis research gave me a chance to travel more, I took the opportunity to learn about the food system in the Northwest Territories.
Now just over a year outside of university, I’ve been living the traveller’s dream teaching EFL in South Korea. With a healthy salary and ample holidays, I’ve been exploring Korea and surrounding countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and soon, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.