Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Gluttonous Existence

The meals have been amazing here in Korea, especially for someone like me who prefers a little bit of a lot of things. As this has been my longest stay ever in the countryside, I'm getting the opportunity to see where more and more of the foods come from. For example, I often drank garlic juice when I lived in Seoul, but I never knew how it was made or why it was black. I had no idea that it was heated continuously for three weeks, or at least that is one way to soften the garlic cloves as shown below.

We spent some time in a bookstore too, with Joo trying to find some books to teach Korean to her 4- and 5-year olds at the church in Athens.

Of course, even with Joo at my side, I'm often unsure of what everything is. For example, I think the large tubs below were being used to make large amounts of tofu but I'm not sure.

Part of the advantage of being a foreigner here in the Korean countryside is that people like to treat me to whatever it is they have access to. Often this is food or clothing, but one lady's son worked at a waterpark and so we all got major discounts.

To service people of all ages, the waterpark also doubled as a mokyoktang. In other words, there were large heated public baths that you soak in for a long time until your skin softens, and then you sit naked on a little stool and let someone scrub you with an abrasive cloth to take off your dead skin.

Imo and Changmonim spent most of their time in the sauna nibbling on the prohibited snacks they had snuck into the park.

After the waterpark, we went to another restaurant with bountiful side dishes. This particular one was famous for the leaves of certain fresh mountain plants. Even Joo's hero Kim Yun-ah (the Korean Olympic figure skating champion) had dined in the restaurant. My highlight of the meal was the toasted seaweed dipped in seasoned soy sauce shown below.

And the battle begins...

Kiwi follows my same childhood habit of taking naps after meals; not surprising given how full one feels after indulging in these banquets.

And another meal (sorry for the lack of diversity in this entry; however it IS representative of how I've spent a lot of my time). This one was compliments of changmonim's cousin shown at right below.

As part of trying to take good care of me, changmonim always keeps a close eye on which side dishes I am eating the most of. She yells at the waiter (normal in Korea) to bring more of something whenever I take two consecutive bites of a particular dish.

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