Friday, December 31, 2004

Beef Soup

After going to the immigration office, all the new staff met with our boss and he took us out for lunch right around the corner. It was one of these restraunts where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor. There are a lot of them here, but not all are like this. I love it. In many places the heat comes up from the floor so it is so warm and cozy. In the center of the table there was a big gas burner and the waitress brought over a huge bowl of beef soup with mushrooms and those yummy clear noodles. When I say mushrooms I'm not just talking about little cap mushrooms, but like 4 or 5 different types of mushrooms--including those cute tiny ones with the long stems. There were lots of side dishes, it was like heaven. I stuffed my face and felt like taking a nap afterwards.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

LGMart

The LGMart across the street from where I work is my new best friend. It's is another place where they sell everything from green tea and great produce to ski boots and knitting needles, insurance (weird but yes, insurance), super cheap little journals (the kind I can't get enough of, for like W800 - 2500, that's like .80 to $2.50), and a food court and little stations where they sell yummy things like mini-melt ice cream or little fried custard filled fried snacks.

They have these sample stands with women wearing astro boy boots and flared leg warmer type thingies and they just scream at you. I have no idea what they are saying but they are loud and aggressive. My guess is that they're like "Pork, yes we have pork! It's the best pork ever! If you don't eat my pork I'm going to eat you!" They want you to eat their sample, bad. At times it isn't anything amazing, just like beef or juice, things people buy anyway... but that's the way it works here.

I've started to eat more meat here. It was pretty rare that I'd choose to eat pork, but I found myself at the LG mart searching for pork cutlets today. Oranges seem to be a big thing here. Apparently there's no "getting sick" or missing work so people load up on vitamin C and oranges. I picked up some red bean buns, tofu, dumplings (who knows what kind I bought but they taste good and they're not kimchi), orange juice, and soju. Soju is dirt cheap, cheaper than a beer at times.

At LGMart you also have to get your produce weighed in the produce section before you pay for it at the register. You get what you want and then they put a little sticker with the price on it. I've since learned that you don't need to take a bag for bananas, and that you aren't supposed to separate certain types of bananas, even if you just want a few. This is a no-no.

Interesting note on bags: you have to pay for a plastic bag, usually about 20 won, which is like 2 cents. I don't see how that is an incentive for you to bring your own. I'm still learning how to be polite, there is a certain way to respectfully had money, or anything for that matter, to someone. I just keep bowing and saying thank you like a moron.

LOTTE World and the Craze Burger

I went out to LOTTE World. It's crazy. There is an amusement park, and hotel, a department store, an ice skating rink, a grocery store, a hotel, a swimming pool... basically they're one of the like 5 companies here that own everything. Everything here is a little bit more petite and cute, like me, including my new apartment.

I've been eating some really good food. I haven't stopped stuffing my face. I just want to eat everything. I'm like "oooh, what's that?" and the next thing I know I'm eating it. I don't know the names of anything, but I'm perfecting my pointing skills. On my first real night here I went out with the new boys from work. We had some crazy snacks (a sizzling platter of all different types of sausage and a huge bowl of fruit with like yogurt and frosted flakes on top. This was surprisingly DELICIOUS!) and had some serious rounds of beer and soju. Food is a little cheaper than in the states and grocery shopping is an experience I'll be talking about for years.

For lunch on my second day my school took us out to the "Craze Burger," (which they advertise as "American Cuisine. Gourmet.") where our options included variety of burgers (including one with strawberry jam on it, and another with an egg), hot dogs, or a Philly cheese steak. I would have rather of gone out for something else.

Okay I'm hungry.

Street Food "TOAST-uh"

I had an amazing egg sandwich at a street vendor. I've later found out that this is called "TOAST-uh." (everything in Korean, or Konglish has an extra vowel at the end. ex: "english-y," "lunch-y") So, this cute lady at the stand melts a little butter on the skillet throws down two pieces of bread and this omelet like egg pancake. I think it had like some pepper and tomato in it. I got the option of ham or cheese, I went with cheese. So, then the egg is done so she throws it on the bread, adds a little like cabbage salad type stuff, sprinkles sugar on the other side of the bread and tops it off with a healthy dousing of ketchup. She wraps it in tin foil and hands it over. It's great you kinda hang out around her stand, where it's ten times warmer than it is outside the little plastic covering, and chit-chat. Not that I can really chit or chat with anyone in Korean yet, but it was fun AND I can't even tell you how good this was. I'm like running out of adjectives. THEN, At the end she offers a little dixie cup of what I thought was tea but turned out to be fish broth. UNBELIEVABLE! crazy!

recipe

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I've arrived! Where's the bakery?

The plane ride was gruesome. It was long, uncomfortable, and my nose dripped the entire time. The food was teribble, of course, and I arrived hungry. I listened to a lot of cds on the plane and knitted--nothing too exciting or noteworthy. Though they did show that Cinderella movie with Hillary Duff, which was complete crap, but those kind of movies are one of my guilty pleasures. Much to my delight I also got to watch Princess Diaries 2 on the flight from Tokyo to Seoul.

I arrived at my apartment late that night and though I hadn't slept it who knows how long at that point, I stayed up late watching tv and eating Korean pastries. For dinner I ate some crazy thing with corn that I was told is "like a pizza" that I picked up from the fabulous pastry shop at the end of my block, appropriately called "YUMMY." How perfect! I also got some green tea ice cream, one of my favorites, and a chocolate chip muffin. Chocolate here tastes different. It's like watered down. It's not as sweet or milky.

My first morning I went out to explore the hood. I had to buy toliet paper, which thus far I've only found in the sandpaper variety. There's a bead shop two blocks down from me and a toy store right next to the bakery that sells yarn. There are a bunch of bars and internet cafes (PC rooms, or PC BONGS as they are called bong = room = hilarious!) all over. Thus far Seoul feels a bit like NY, you plug into the flow and pulse of the city and just go about your business. I expected things to feel really strange. And some things do, like the language thing.