Category Archives: Food

Enlightened

Well, I’ve been walking past an ad for this:

Careful, this might kill you.

for a few months now. Looking at it has made me cringe many times. I simply could not fathom what it was, and hanging in a Lotteria window, I was extra afraid. Duk, cornflakes, beans..milk…? Whaaatttt? Continue reading

On Hydration

There’s a really funny thread on Waygook.org right now that has kept my attention for the past 24 hours. It’s slightly entertaining (and often irritating) to watch strangers bicker over really mundane, though often apropos, observations of life as a Waygook. Things like if it’s cool that Koreans ask you to take pictures with them. Or whether or not this teaching gig will look good on a resume later on.

If you live in Korea, you know that looks fucking delicious

The particular topic I’m interested in today is “Do Koreans drink enough water?” The original poster simply finds it strange that Koreans don’t appear to drink much water at all, a doubt which OP and I share, and which I have long gotten over. But this person’s wondering has incensed many KOREA-CAN-DO-NO-WRONGers. Since I have no interest in arguing with people on an increasingly troll-y and uptight message forum, I have decided pontificate here, on my blog, where I am the ultimate authority.

I will be fair and make my comparisons only to the U.S, since I really don’t know how much water the rest of you English speakers drink. I suspect America overdoes it a little (though, it’s certainly not in our character to be intemperate).

Things that make me feel like Koreans drink significantly less water than Americans (possibly to their detriment): Continue reading

Before Korea, I Never Thought I’d…

…sing in public all of the time.

And I’m not even talking about a norebang. I’m talking about in class. In front of hundreds of kids. And a coteacher. Everyday. It’s not a big deal when I’m singing along with the book CD or with the class. But one of my coteachers had the brilliant idea to turn everything we do into a song. Before my kids tell me what day it is, they must sing “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday” to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine” twice. And after we’ve determined the entire date, I must lead them in a rousing verse of “Today is Monday, Today is Monday, April 23rd, April 23rd, 2011, 2011, That’s the date, That’s the date” to the tune of “Frère Jacques”. I have a really hard time not singing off key at the higher parts, and it’s rough to squish “February twenty third” into like three syllables. Awkward. But I do it. Four times a day. Five days a week.

…eat Spam.

Yep.

I made it to the age of 25 without ever seeing a can of Spam in real life, but August 2010 that all changed because Spam is everywhere in this country. Continue reading

Good Riddance

To start this week I could write you a lovely story about my weekend spent outside in gorgeous Gwangju, drinking beer and feeling pretty positive about life in general. It’s been beautiful here lately, which is both wonderful and confusing. Amazing weather, happy students and activities every weekend until August make it hard to understand why I would leave. I know that I don’t belong here another year, but right now I’m blinded by the spring sunshine. In order to balance the scale of my emotions, I have to really focus on the mundane reasons that, considered collectively, remind me why I’m out in four months. Thus, in no particular order, here are five things right off the top of my head that I will not miss about Korea. Continue reading

Why Did the Megan Cross the Road?

ACT ONE

“They have fried chickens there.  Like whole ones. For $12.”

That’s how I got sucked into going to a baseball game. It was all about the chicken from the very beginning.

See, I don’t really like baseball. I find it a bit dull. Being a big hockey fan, I can’t help but compare the pace of a hockey game to the pace of a baseball game, and the constant excitement and momentum of hockey makes baseball excruciatingly boring. I know this sentiment offends most people, but I don’t care.

I heard a lot of positive talk from foreigner friends here regarding Gwangju Kia Tigers baseball. They had a blast last season going to as many games as possible and were all pretty pumped about spending the next four months at the field. Most of it I disregarded for the aforementioned reason. But then someone told me about The Chicken. She said it was amazing and cheap and special because it’s like, a whole chicken, fried right before your eyes. So I thought: Nice weather? $7 a ticket? Fried chicken? Alright. I’ll go.

Baseball Concessions: Look familiar? I didn't think so.

ACT TWO

From the moment I arrived and took in the scene that was “concessions”, it was all about The Chicken. Erin and I joined a group of our waygook friends, planting ourselves firmly in front of the chicken cart and giant bubbling pots of oil.

Friends: Hi guys!

Me: Chicken?

Friends: How was your day?

Me: Chickenchicken.

Friends: This is your first time at the baseball game right?

Me: Chicken?

Friends: Maybe we should buy tickets? And think about getting seats?

Me: Mm..Chicken.

Fixating on how awesome this super fresh, whole fried chicken for $12 was gonna be, we waited.

 

A whole chicken per pot.

And we waited and waited. And waited some more. When all was said and done, four boxes (a chicken in each box) and forty minutes later, we made it to our seats.

I surprised myself by opening a beer and enjoying a few sips before diving into the goods. Was The Chicken everything it promised to be? Pretty much (especially after I found the packet of salt at the bottom of the box). It was super crispy, with a tasty batter made all the more flavorful by the wholeness of the bird.

Glory

Would I return to the baseball game for a warm spring night full of cheering, beer and chicken? Indeed.

ACT THREE

This afternoon, I was jolted from my post-lunch coma by one of my favorite students asking me “Teacher, where you go yesterday?”

Yesterday was her birthday and I thought she expected me to have been at school, so I explained that I work at my other school on Tuesdays. But she shook her head and said, “Last night. TV. I see you!”

A look of surprise and recognition washed over my face and I started laughing. Again on TV huh? I’m pretty sure my giant waygook clan was featured on the soccer game a few weeks ago too. Ah, fame.

And then she repeated, “I see you on TV. Eat fried chicken teacher!! HAHAHAHA!!!!”

Ah, shame.

I imagine my 11 year old student, sitting at home around the tv with her family. On the screen appears my greasy face, half masked behind a giant hunk of fried meat as I gnaw away gleefully. “That’s my teacher!” she cries. And her parents frown uncomfortably, embarrassed and concerned by the grotesque image in front of them.

I almost want to look for the video. Google search “Foreigner devours fried chicken at Korean baseball game”. But it would definitely ruin chicken and/or baseball for me forever.

Mind Over Manners

Cultural Lesson #2837: Learning What’s Polite in Another Country

In Korea, it’s polite to bow when you meet someone for the first time. Also when you see your principal walk by, when you see your vice principal walk by, when you see someone you know in the hallway, when you complete a monetary transaction anywhere, when someone enters or leaves the room even if it’s for the fiftymillionth time. It’s polite to bow all the of the time in Korea, and it’s a cultural practice I am happy to accept and participate in. The same goes for other very strange feeling habits, like always extending my money to a cashier with both hands and accepting change with both hands. Or pouring drinks for people with both hands. No problem.

But even after seven months living here, there are a handful of common Korean behaviors that I just can’t get behind. Some of them I’m simply not wired to perform and others are so unspeakably gross that even in the name of cultural diplomacy I am flat out unwilling tolerate. Continue reading

Delivery Chuseyo

One of the coolest things about Korea is delivery food. It’s blazing fast, it’s good quality, and you can get just about anything you can get in a regular Korean restaurant (including dolsot bibimbap and awesome fried chickens). I suspected as much for the first five and a half months I lived here. But being that I don’t speak Korean, calling up a Kimbap place and requesting food was a laughable endeavor.  Sometime in February though, out of hungover desperation and vacation ennui, I forced myself to make it work.

A lot of the words are familiar to me: “bibimbap”, “kimbap”, “I want”, I say these things in restaurants. “Delivery please” had to be researched and pronouncing my address had to be practiced (I never say it to cab drivers, I just ask to go to my school which is three minutes away and far easier to explain).

After a little studying and a LOT of practicing, I was just about ready to pick up the phone. I had my script, my address spelled out phonetically, a list of what I wanted to order. The only flaw in my plan would be if the Korean on the other end tried to ask me any questions. I was perfectly capable of reciting my order, but there was no way in hell I was going to be able to converse. Continue reading