Monday, February 28, 2005

The Unending Traditional Korean Meal



I was invited by the Jung Family to go to a traditional Korean meal. We went to a fabulous restaurant and I got the chance to revisit some of my favorites and once again come face to face with lovely treats (supposedly delicacies), like cow cartilage. I couldn't possibly fit all these dishes into one post, so I thought I'd try to do this as a series.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

grocery store "serbice"



I'm really into the "service" in Korea. There always seems to be a little discount or some kind of bonus material. I bought a phone card and got a vitamin C drink. I bought a couple bottles of water at the corner store and the guy gave me a couple hundred won discount, and last week I bought some face cream and I got a bunch of samples.

The LG Mart is by far the most peculiar with their "service" that I've seen so far. First of all, they always have samples and the employees try to get you to buy certain special items. Sometimes as an incentive they use packing tape and attach additional items to the package. Sometimes these are related items (like yesterday when I got an extra small ice cream attached to my big ice cream and an extra milk attached to my soy) and sometimes they aren't. For example, you're buying ramen (ramyen in Korea), of course it makes sense that a set of sponges should be attached. You're buying beverages. Why not get the big bottle of Pocari Sweat, it comes with a glass taped to the top. If you buy a few more you'll have a whole set. I'm searching for the perfect cereal. Why not go with the almond flakes? They have a pencil case, a Frisbee, and more cereal taped to it!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

a whole chicken = takdori tang

For dinner I had some kind of delicious spicy stew like dish with a whole chicken in the soup. There were leeks and potatoes (just sliced into two halves) in with the chicken. The potatoes were my favorite part. Well, almost...



The waiter spoke English, which was quite good actually. When asked where he learned English he told me that he went to an academy and had an American teacher long ago, but now in order to keep his language skills sharp he watches American TV. He was enlightening me on his favorite quality programs. They included Jerry Springer and The Bachelor. He confessed that the first time he watched Jerry he had no idea what was going on, but now he really enjoys it in order to get an idea about what American culture is like. After I went on a long tangent about how Mr. Springer's show is a terrible representation of American culture, he went on to tell me that he likes Oprah too. I don't dislike Oprah in any way, actually I think she's great, but I never watch her show. Regardless, though I'm not sure why, I must say that this made me feel really relieved. I thought, "Well, at least he watches Oprah..."

After the chicken was finished then it was time for the noodles and some squash. Not that I really could eat anymore, but it was really good, so I kept eating. Oh, I'm so content and full. I'm so happy I feel like, like... like eating ice cream.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

since I've lost my appetite

I thought I might start documenting some of the crazy Korean things and terrible English translations that cross my path.

Every time I use my washing machine I have to at least smile. In the states I don't know if they would name an appliance "Fuzzy Logic" and expect it to sell. It's perfect for me though because I only know how to use two of the buttons. Power and start. As for the rest of the buttons even Korean people are a bit confused as to what they do.

Ganja



Denise and I went out for nice "Authenic Indian Cuisine" at a place called Ganja. Of course, an "authentic Indian dish" (in Korea) isn't complete without a side of Kimchi.

black soy milk



I went to get some soy milk and I've seen this other type with black beans so I thought I'd give it a try. Okay, it's really good. Pour it on some crazy cereal and it's like eating dessert for breakfast.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I'm gonna put on my eatin' dress

I've been wondering what will come of all this eating. The nightmare I have starts with me waking up one day, I look in the mirror and my butt is the size of China. I ask myself "How could this be?? You turned into an obese American in Asia?!?" I raise my hands to the sky, then grab the thick mounds of flesh hanging off my body and scream "DAMN YOU CHOCOPIE! HOTTUCK MY LOVE FOR YOU HAS TURNED! BAD SNACKS! BAD SNACKS! AHHH!!!"

Then, recently I noticed I do look a little thicker around the middle. I was sure that I had put on some pounds, at least 5 to 7 by the way I felt, but I don't have a scale so I didn't know. This wasn't very disturbing. In fact, I'd hoped to EVENLY distribute a few pounds to get me through the evil freezing cold winter in Korea.

When I visited the bath house, which was fabulous, they had a scale. It
read 43.3 kg., and it turns out that I still weight around 95 lbs. I may have gained half a pound.

Friday, February 11, 2005

and then she ate too much...

I'm back from my holiday in ChunCheon for the New Year. It was an experience. The famous dish of this area is this chicken called dalkalbi. There was this huge round metal plate, like the size of a small table in the center of the table. We all sat on the floor around it. The waitress, who's more like someone's mom than a real waitress, comes over a dumps a truck load of chicken pieces, veggies, little slices of rice cylinders (dduk), and cabbage onto the big plate with a small shovel. This all heats for a bit and everyone is constantly stirring the chicken/cabbage heap with the shovel. The whole eating experience is such a performance. When we finally eat, it's pretty good. Not my favorite, but good.

Since everyone I've been hanging out with is older than me, they never let me pay for anything and it feels nice that they've welcomed me into their little sphere like they really are a bunch of older brothers, but strange all at the same time.

After lunch we went back to Woo Seuck's house, and chilled there for a bit watching some crazy Korean cable. I still can't get over how bizarre it all is, particularly television. His mother kept stuffing me with snacks. Then it was time to go eat again. We went off to a raw fish restaurant--not sushi but sorta like sashimi, without the rice. They brought out all these side dishes and a big bowl filled with what's like a salad or bi bim bop(sans the egg) along with a basket of lettuce and sesame tree leaves to make little wraps with the trout.

I stuffed myself. At one point I just couldn't do anymore. EG, Woo Seuck's brother, looks at me and says, "We have to eat all of this, have more. We can't leave till we eat it all" and I almost died. We finished the food and then she brought out more--this time a spicy trout and seafood soup. I felt so ill.

I ran off into the night to find the bathroom. When I got there I discovered that I was really in the country. Not only was it FREEZING, not only was the toilet a squatter, but it was also just a hole in the ground. The smell was so overwhelming and I felt so awful I just bent over the little cliff and spat the nastiest chunks of my life. I was sure I was dying. Right then and there I thought I was dying. I figured, well, I made it to Asia. That's cool.

For the rest of the night I was sick. The guys took me home to find a room full of their relatives eager to converse--of course I had no idea what anyone had been saying all night, so I just felt worse.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jim-Jill-Bang

The bath houses here are awesome. I am going to move out of my apartment and into a 'Jim-Jill-Bang.' It was like being on a tropical vacation or going to the spa.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

the dumplings are making me old

On new Year's Day I woke up to a bunch of relatives and a lot of commotion in the living room and kitchen. They were all preparing for all these new year's rituals and things. Woo's cousins and mom dressed me up in traditional dress. It was really
cute, but really PINK. After a bunch of bowing we ate Dduk Gook, the traditional dumpling soup.


recipe

I'm older in Korea. When you are born you are a year old, when Lunar New Year rolls around you gain a year once you eat the dumpling soup. Your actual birthday doesn't mean much for your age. So, I cam here 25 a couple months ago and now all the sudden I'm told that I'm 27. This isn't TERRIBLE news, I just didn't expect to age so quickly.

After the vomit incident and the getting old thing I've lost my appetite. I'm feeling a bunch of posts about crazy Korean things and my new favorite cheezy guilty pleasures.