18 January, 2006

Korean Food

I usually eat lunch with the kids in the cafeteria. The school cook has the thankless job of preparing food for maybe forty kids, and the teachers are welcome to join them. Joseph goes home to study or sleep, but I am all about not having to buy something or cook for myself, and the food is good. Rice, some sort of soup, kimchi, often a bowl of seaweed, and a meat or vegetable or omelet dish.

Today, however, Joseph asked me if I wanted to eat really good food, so we walked down the street to a small restaurant where we were served a whole pile of delicious Korean fare for about $5 each. Black-peppery soup with two kinds of dumplings and chewy discs of pounded rice, cucumber salad, pickled something or other, cold cooked marinated spinach, grilled marinated fish, rice, curly red lettuce leaves, and a sizzling bowl of grilled meat with sauce. This was my favorite—we would take a lettuce leaf, add a piece of meat, a scoop of rice, and a dab of plum colored paste, then pull all the edges of the lettuce together at the top and—as it’s impolite, not to mention impractical, to bite into something like that—shove the whole thing into our mouths. Who thinks of these things? It’s so good!

During my free period from 3:30-4:45, Julian sometimes asks me to do conversation with one of her kids—Jack age eight or Karas age thirteen. Today Karas and I went for a walk on which she bought me grilled chicken on a stick from a corner stand. I would have been fine with just the chicken on the stick, but wouldn’t you know, they just have to brush it with red fire paste. I knew it would be hot since the picture of the little chicken on the front of the stand has flames shooting out of its mouth, but I ate it bravely and tried not to gulp down too much water like a weak foreigner. Back at the school a half an hour later, my mouth and lips were still doing a slow burn. I was also told that of the three levels of heat in which the chicken can come, I had consumed the least spicy.


Neary said...

Firey chicken sounds yummy... but I'm not sure I could handle the seaweek and kimchi.

Margie said...

kimichi--well, i have to admit i'm not keen on all kinds of kimchi. but seaweed, mmmmm... just think lettuce with a taste of the ocean...