Tag Archives: food

Walk Like a Korean

A well known ‘problem’ foreigners have in Korea is predicting at what speed and in which direction a Korean is going to walk near you on the street. They are notoriously erratic in their travel from A to B and one must always be wary. I have become mostly numb to this specific issue (except for the occasional krazy who walks AT me at Home Plus).* But that is because all my anger is used up in another daily Korea walking conflict: Getting from Office to Cafeteria.

See, this can never happen in a normal manner and it never ceases to enrage me. I’ve wanted to write about these ten minutes for a long time because it is a daily fight. But it makes me so mad that I can actually feel my blood pressure rise and I don’t know how to write it nicely. The best I can do is present the situation factually and reflect on each part. Continue reading

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

Picture This

Like most native teachers in these parts, my classroom is coated in teaching materials. The walls and windows are covered with shades that double as  huge, fully-illustrated English vocabulary flashcards. IT’S RAINING. BADMINTON. TUMMY. HAMBURGER. Useful? Only kind of. But certainly more so than the…extra-curricular shades printed with pictures of American culture. (I do hope this irritated my Canadian predecessor fiercely.)

USA! USA!

USAAAAAAAA!!!

.....usa?

Let’s just zoom in on this one for a moment, shall we?

Once you spot him, he's all you'll see.

Continue reading

TWD WonderJournalism Exclusive: Dangerous Flavor Combinations Drive Expats to the Very Edge of Sanity!

BREAKING NEWS: Your favorite internet journalists are back, Readers, and we’re hungry for truth. Hungry….for donuts. First, we brought you the word on Korean gas station triangle food, now we’ve shifted our focus to circles. Specifically, the circles of the oddly prolific chain Dunkin Donuts. How did these American tongues react to Korean twists on classic pastries? How did they manage to eat this many donuts? How did they cope with surprising fillings? This and so much more, below!

For your convenience, donuts were rated on a .5-5 chopsticks scale.

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

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