Archive for November, 2006

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Don’t let this happen to you

November 30, 2006

When you travel long distances to eat expensive and rare treats (that being a Guacamole/Veggie Toasted Quizno’s Sub in Korea), never leave yourself so hungry that you can’t even find the menu item you really want, and instead order a pale, weak subtitute in its place, only to find that after a few unsatisfying bites, the thing you wanted had not been deleted from the menu, but was in fact taunting you from above…

And that’s…. one to grow on.

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Don’t let this happen to you

November 30, 2006

When you travel long distances to eat expensive and rare treats (that being a Guacamole/Veggie Toasted Quizno’s Sub in Korea), never leave yourself so hungry that you can’t even find the menu item you really want, and instead order a pale, weak subtitute in its place, only to find that after a few unsatisfying bites, the thing you wanted had not been deleted from the menu, but was in fact taunting you from above…

And that’s…. one to grow on.

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Kimchi making time!

November 27, 2006

Autumn in Korea is kimjang, kimchi making time. I’ve never had the opportunity to take part, and this year I finally got my chance. Kimchi, for the uninitiated, is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods and is the staple of Korean meals – morning – noon – night. I’ve had it plain, fried, stewed, boiled, raw, pickled, and even in a kimchi and jelly sandwich. And though it didn’t strike me initially as the best staple on earth (that would be nutella), it has grown on me to the point that no meal in Korea is complete without it. Some say it even plays a role in keeping SARS and avian flu episodes rare in Korea. Hmm… dunnoboutdat. I’ll just stick to the basics.

Kimchi comes in many different guises. There are said to be over 100 types, incorporating everything from parilla leaves to Asian pears to cucumbers, but the most common is cabbage kimchi – “baechu kimchi” (fermented cabbage…. could be known as the Korean sauerkraut, right? that explains Dominica’s penchant for Alsatian restaurants). 

Kimjang begins with getting the elements in order. Off to market!

Tangerines were being sold in bulk – 40 for $2.00! Two days later, the price would skyrocket… only 20 for $2.00. Oh well. They’re still yummy and cheap and my best defense against winter colds.

No kimjang is complete without a granny to make sure everyone understands that they are doing something incorrectly.

Here all the greenery is getting set up… something like chard, some spinach, some green onions.

Here’s where everything goes awry for me. The white/yellow stuff is minced garlic, ginger and onion. Delectable. The grey stuff… not so much. That is the result of stuffing a coupla pounds of tiny grey sea shrimp into a mixer. Liquid shrimp. Hmmm…. At temples, they leave that out. I like temples.

The minced ingredients have been mixed in with julienned daikon radish, pepper powder, salt and green onions. Here is where foreign boy got down to business mixing everything with his hands. You can see my pink gloves resting on the top of the basin. The close up picture is rather interesting if you click on the original.

As we wait for everything to get nice and mushy, granny works on some other daikon, salting it and placing it in a barrel where it will sit for three days and then be soaked in a water/vinegar mix to make “mul kimchi” (water kimchi).

Now, to the baechu… they’re taking a nice saltwater bath!  That’s 80 head o’ cabbage you see there. No corned beef though.

The soaked cabbage is then rinsed and washed 

and then allowed to drain on any available space.

And meanwhile, hyoung hams for the camera.

At this point, numerous hours had already passed and it was time for me to “keep a promise” as appointment keeping is called in Korean. We were a bit more than half-finished, but the rest of the work would take lots of waiting time. How long?  Hyoungsu (wife of hyoung), who had finished a long night of giving haircuts and Saturday night perms, simply said, “all night, all night,” sighing and gesturing to her lounging husband as she repeated, “Korean women’s lives are very hard, very hard.”

As I left early, I couldn’t help but agree and was both shamed and thankful I had an appointment to keep.

h1

Kimchi making time!

November 27, 2006

Autumn in Korea is kimjang, kimchi making time. I’ve never had the opportunity to take part, and this year I finally got my chance. Kimchi, for the uninitiated, is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods and is the staple of Korean meals – morning – noon – night. I’ve had it plain, fried, stewed, boiled, raw, pickled, and even in a kimchi and jelly sandwich. And though it didn’t strike me initially as the best staple on earth (that would be nutella), it has grown on me to the point that no meal in Korea is complete without it. Some say it even plays a role in keeping SARS and avian flu episodes rare in Korea. Hmm… dunnoboutdat. I’ll just stick to the basics.

Kimchi comes in many different guises. There are said to be over 100 types, incorporating everything from parilla leaves to Asian pears to cucumbers, but the most common is cabbage kimchi – “baechu kimchi” (fermented cabbage…. could be known as the Korean sauerkraut, right? that explains Dominica’s penchant for Alsatian restaurants). 

Kimjang begins with getting the elements in order. Off to market!

Tangerines were being sold in bulk – 40 for $2.00! Two days later, the price would skyrocket… only 20 for $2.00. Oh well. They’re still yummy and cheap and my best defense against winter colds.

No kimjang is complete without a granny to make sure everyone understands that they are doing something incorrectly.

Here all the greenery is getting set up… something like chard, some spinach, some green onions.

Here’s where everything goes awry for me. The white/yellow stuff is minced garlic, ginger and onion. Delectable. The grey stuff… not so much. That is the result of stuffing a coupla pounds of tiny grey sea shrimp into a mixer. Liquid shrimp. Hmmm…. At temples, they leave that out. I like temples.

The minced ingredients have been mixed in with julienned daikon radish, pepper powder, salt and green onions. Here is where foreign boy got down to business mixing everything with his hands. You can see my pink gloves resting on the top of the basin. The close up picture is rather interesting if you click on the original.

As we wait for everything to get nice and mushy, granny works on some other daikon, salting it and placing it in a barrel where it will sit for three days and then be soaked in a water/vinegar mix to make “mul kimchi” (water kimchi).

Now, to the baechu… they’re taking a nice saltwater bath!  That’s 80 head o’ cabbage you see there. No corned beef though.

The soaked cabbage is then rinsed and washed 

and then allowed to drain on any available space.

And meanwhile, hyoung hams for the camera.

At this point, numerous hours had already passed and it was time for me to “keep a promise” as appointment keeping is called in Korean. We were a bit more than half-finished, but the rest of the work would take lots of waiting time. How long?  Hyoungsu (wife of hyoung), who had finished a long night of giving haircuts and Saturday night perms, simply said, “all night, all night,” sighing and gesturing to her lounging husband as she repeated, “Korean women’s lives are very hard, very hard.”

As I left early, I couldn’t help but agree and was both shamed and thankful I had an appointment to keep.

h1

Meeting a Legend

November 23, 2006

withcindy.jpg

Last night, my friends Christina and Alice invited me to a very special engagment. I was fortunate enough to meet Cindy Sheehan who was part of a delegation of peace activists visiting Korea to build bridges with anti-war activists here.

She gave a talk to a packed church in downtown Seoul and shared her thoughts on what brought her to the movement and how she felt it must move forward.

I was immensely impressed not only by the message she articulated, but by the strength and nobility she brought to her presentation. Tired, sad, and distressed as she may be, she showed impeccable grace and patience in her bearing, even in the difficult circumstances of having a speech continuously interrupted by simultaneous interpretation into Korean.

During question and answer time, I took the mic to ask whether she had come to her political views before her son left for Iraq and if so, whether she had discussed with Casey what she felt. She replied that she did in fact protest the war before it took place and that she begged her son to come with her to Canada. As tears welled up in her eyes (and mine as well), she recalled the intense sense of duty that Casey reminded her was imperative to uphold, to his country that he had promised his service, and to his comrades-in-arms whom he had vowed never to abandon. Sadly, only five days after his arrival to Iraq, he was shot and killed.

Sheehan noted the intense appreciation she had for her welcome here in Korea, and promised that the amazing impression made by the young activists leading the struggle would travel back with her to the States where she would let everyone know that hope was alive among the Korean activist community.

h1

Meeting a Legend

November 23, 2006

withcindy.jpg

Last night, my friends Christina and Alice invited me to a very special engagment. I was fortunate enough to meet Cindy Sheehan who was part of a delegation of peace activists visiting Korea to build bridges with anti-war activists here.

She gave a talk to a packed church in downtown Seoul and shared her thoughts on what brought her to the movement and how she felt it must move forward.

I was immensely impressed not only by the message she articulated, but by the strength and nobility she brought to her presentation. Tired, sad, and distressed as she may be, she showed impeccable grace and patience in her bearing, even in the difficult circumstances of having a speech continuously interrupted by simultaneous interpretation into Korean.

During question and answer time, I took the mic to ask whether she had come to her political views before her son left for Iraq and if so, whether she had discussed with Casey what she felt. She replied that she did in fact protest the war before it took place and that she begged her son to come with her to Canada. As tears welled up in her eyes (and mine as well), she recalled the intense sense of duty that Casey reminded her was imperative to uphold, to his country that he had promised his service, and to his comrades-in-arms whom he had vowed never to abandon. Sadly, only five days after his arrival to Iraq, he was shot and killed.

Particularly powerful were two points she felt must be made. First, Bush and Cheney should go to jail for what they’ve done. Sheehan felt it was unconscionable for those who are responsible for such grave crimes to be able to retire and live out their lives in peace when so many have to live with only heartache and suffering because of their mistakes. Indeed, even those who kill by accident get put in jail for manslaughter, but if you are at the helm of a nation, you can kill without impunity.

Secondly, and this hit me particularly hard and personally, was her statement that she not only forgave those who shot her son, but indeed felt she need to ask them for her forgiveness, because it was only just for them to choose to take arms against an occupying Army, and that any Americans would do the same against any force that came to our soil. “An Iraqi insurgent pulled the trigger, but Bush, Cheney and Congress killed my son and I swear to you I will never stop trying to bring justice for his murder.”

Woah. That’s one tough momma.

Sheehan also noted the intense appreciation she had for her welcome here in Korea, and promised that the amazing impression made by the young activists leading the struggle would travel back with her to the States where she would let everyone know that hope was alive among the Korean activist community. This also made me particularly happy because I too have been so overwhelmed by the spirit I see among activists here, as well as the organizational discipline that is displayed in demo after demo after demo. We Americans have much to learn….

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Got dat right.

November 14, 2006
What American accent do you have?

Your Result: The Inland North

 

 

You may think you speak “Standard English straight out of the dictionary” but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like “Are you from Wisconsin?” or “Are you from Chicago?” Chances are you call carbonated drinks “pop.”

What American accent do you have?