Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You Say Potato, I Say "맛있어요!"

There must have been a deal on potatoes because this week has been a never ending potato suprise at 찬의학교.

First there was monday's snack, boiled potatoes.
Then there was tuesday's snack, potato and cabbage sandwiches ( I can't make this stuff up).
Wednesday- sweet potatoes in some sort of brown gravy for lunch.
And today? Potato sticks with sesame oil at lunch and sweet potatoes drenched in corn syrup for snack.

This potato extravaganza comes hot on the tail of a recent realization that Korea is kind of like a brand new baby in many ways...including nutrition. Up until recently, potatoes and pig were main staples of the Korean diet. I just learned the other day that most of my coworkers did not have hot water growing up. And I discovered most unfortuitously, that not all bathrooms have toilets...(thanks for the headsup on the whole squat to pee thing, angie!) I live in an old part of seoul with very dirty streets and old women selling weird pig parts in the alley I don't know why this information about "old Korea" (just 10 years ago!) comes as such an unbelievable shock. The Seoul I KNOW is totally modern...with most conveniences and the ones that are missing, completely forgiveable. But I'm starting to understand a few things...

Like the love/hate relationship Korea has with western culture. And the eery twilight zone "little america" that we call Base. I went to the US Embassy housing on sunday for a church fireside and literally almost lost it. Within the little gates of itaewon was something resembling Shangrila. You could smell the BBQ and hear the lawn mowers whirling. There was a large commissary that had an odd resemblence to a Wal*mart and dinner consisted of Green Jello and Turkey Dinner Casserole cooked in a (nearly-mystical-in-korea) oven. There was a discussion among we foreigners who live outside the castle gates. It went something like this, as we took off our shoes and walked/danced upon the manicured lawns of our compatriots...

NB: "Doesn't this kind of creep you out?"
Foreigner Friend Who Has Been Here Longer: "Yeah, it looks just like California."
NB: "It kind of makes me sad. They've come all the way from the U.S. and don't really get to experience Korean culture."
FFWHBHL: "Yeah. Hey, do you think they'll let us have some of their barbeque?"
NB: "I mean, Korea is beautiful and has a lot to offer...OH MY GOSH, is that a trampoline? DUDE, I'm so jumping on that trampoline...right after I stop at the wal*mart to buy some gum that doesn't taste like watered down grape juice..."

What can I say. I like trampolines. OK enough musing. Time for work.


Sarita said...

Reminds me of when my mother went to Indonesia....and only came across the new fangeled toilets once in great awhile. Inevitably, everytime they did find one, there would be foot prints on the seat.

In my mother's words "I can just see hear them now....dang, I got one of the high ones...."

Marie said...

It's so much easier to have an adventure when you aren't lured by the siren call of BBQ. Back away from the trampoline and go eat some easily recognizable pig parts! No, it won't be fun, but your future grandkids will be impressed. And so will your reading public.

Nah, I'm already impressed. You earned your afternoon in Shangrila.