Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Catie: All the pepoples of Korea love their maple food.

[caption id="attachment_202" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="all the pepoples!"]                                                                                                                 IMG_0482[/caption]

We had a pretty good weekend.  We'd meant to go hiking on Saturday up at -- i think this is how it's spelled -- Gyeryongsan National Park.  Which, apparently, is huge and awesome.

Unfortunately, we are not awesome.  And we are lazy on the weekends.

So, instead, we hopped a bus into the big city.  First, we went to HomePlus, which is another huge department store.  There are so many here and they're pretty great because we can find stuff in them to cook at home.  So far, we've been to LotteMart (too expensive), E-Mart (okay prices), Costco (expensive, but they have stuff you can't find anywhere - i.e. cheese, lunchmeat...) and now HomePlus.

They're all basically the same as far as looks and size.  Three giant floors, each devoted to something different, and each of them has some foreign food we want.

HomePlus, though, might be our favorite so far.  We found tons of stuff there.  It was kind of funny.  They have about six or seven different types of spaghetti sauce, Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips, frozen tortillas, tatertots, canned diced tomatoes (an anomaly, it feels like), Hunt's tomato paste and tomato sauce, canned pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans and -- the holy grail -- GREEN BEANS.  They're all french cut, but they have them!  I was amazed.  I thought I wouldn't see another green bean for a year.

We didn't get to go shopping this time, though we did buy green beans, canned corn (they're so obsessed with corn here that their canned corn isn't too awful and the frozen stuff is incredibly expensive) and a can of tomato sauce to make vegetable beef soup.  It ended up tasting great and just like home.

I think people who live in Seoul, or in Daejeon proper probably think we're nuts for being so excited, but we don't find those sorts of things out here in boonies.  We can find some stuff (Lotte actually has alfredo sauce) and we do have tomato paste here, but for one, like, 12 oz. can its almost $4.00, at HomePlus it was $2.00.  So, if we lived somewhere bigger or more heavily populated with foreigners, it would be easier to find stuff like that, but it makes the finding even more exciting.  And it forces us to think more about what we want to make at home, what's affordable, and when we'd rather eat out.

So, HomePlus was a success!  And, even though we didn't go hiking, we did do quite a bit of walking to get there.

Also, we got the picture above from what seemed to be a small impulse fixture of shoes and purses (yes, impulse shoes for... thirty dollars). It's hard to read, so here's a close-up:

[caption id="attachment_207" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="all the pepoples!"]IMG_0481[/caption]

Here is what it says in full: "Make up your skin!all the pepople Love your color.Bloom Boom Boom!"

While I do like the pepoples, I really like the Bloom Boom Boom.  It sounds like someone's getting shot or it's a really loud concert.  I don't know, but it's pretty funny.

Also, we say this all the time, but:  Though we do cook a lot of American food, we eat out a lot, too.  It's just that when we're less financially stable (right now), it makes a lot more sense to make a big pot of soup and eat it for dinner twice than to spend that ten dollars to eat once.  A lot of Americans coming to Korea are accused of either hating Korean food or refusing to try it, and we've done neither.  We like it and we like to eat it.  In fact, we'd probably eat a lot more of it if we had the resources.  However, moving forward.

After HomePlus, we went back to the Starbucks right next to our bus stop.  It's at this HUGE mall called The Galleria Time World (kind of an awesome name) that is full of (as far as we can tell, though we haven't explored very far) brand name Designers: Chanel, Gucci, Dior, etc...  I don't know how people afford that stuff, but it's always packed to the gills.

And across the street from The Galleria Tim World is another Starbucks!  So, we get to choose every time we go into town.  But the second one is newer and has phased it's soft chairs out, so we never pick it.  Always the one in Galleria Time World.  Also, the latte we always share, is maybe the best Starbucks latte I have ever had.  Including back at home.  The only thing we can think of is that they have the old, old machines.  The ones before the last old ones that they have in America.  Whatever it is, their lattes are killer.

That was Saturday, totally boring but good.

Sunday was.. weird.  And awkward.

We'd seen somewhere that an Irish movie was playing at The International Center in Daejeon.  And it was free.  And in a part of town we'd never been to.  And we got Colin Farrell and Colin Firth confused, so we thought we might actually like the movie.  Unfortunately, we don't like Colin Farrell at all.. and we love Colin Firth, so the confusion was of a particularly bad sort.

But The Int'l Center does have a very small lending library of English books.  Basically, when you're done living here or done with the books you brought, you can give them to the lending library and then other foreigners can get a membership and check those books out.  There is one shelf of DVDs too, though.. we can download anything we want in minutes, so that's what we usually do.  Ben was very excited about the English books.

The movie was..  well, it was called Intermission, and it was... sort of like a cross between Crash and, I don't know, maybe Love, Actually and then comedy thrown in between violence.  But with a lot less Love, Actually.  It was a real weird mixture.  I was never sure whether I should be horrified or laughing.  In all, we decided to make an effort in future never to confuse The Colins again.  It does not turn out well when we do.  Everyone in the movie dies, and then it's like you're supposed to laugh or something.

I knit a good piece of sock during the crazy though.  And we got to try this Korean Cola (can't remember the name) that was like coke and coffee with the caffeine of a red bull.  It was scary stuff.  If someone ever offers you a drink saying, "You should like to try this, this.. cola.  It is like a Korean kind of Coca Cola."  If anyone ever says that to you, do not do it.  You may not quiver at the mention of the stuff, but you will afterwards when you are suffering caffeine tremors.

The movie was weird, definitely, and very awkward when, once the movie was over and they had us trapped, they tried to commission everyone to commit to some program involving the Korean school system.  All I know is that the paragraph on the flyer they handed out went like this,

"We have performed the multi-cultural educations with many foreign friends to Korean school students for years.  According to that fact, we are currently looking for many friends who were not born in Korea and be glad to share their culture with Korean school students.  We would like you to consider doing it with our teams.  Plus, we'll provide small bonus for your favor."

All very awkward, yes, so.. we sort of just walked out and left without saying goodbye.........

The Int'l Center was on a really cool side of town, though.  To get from the side of the street our bus dropped us at to the side with the center, we had to go through an underground crosswalk.  Which went straight past a mall.  This big hallway underground, with all kinds of people shopping.  It was crazy.  We should have gotten pictures.

And, after the movie, we stopped and got what we thought were steamed buns (I don't think Korea makes them, but they're the best part of China -- like a chewy roll with barbecue pulled pork inside), but ended up being more of a giant mandu (dumpling).  Not the most awesome, but fun to try anyway.  Inside they had ground pork and green onion and maybe some scrambled egg.  They're pretty big, maybe the size of a large mandarin orange, and super oniony, but they were good.

Everything here, really, is either super oniony or super garlicy.  We notice the garlic the most when we go to the grocery store in search of garlic cloves by the milligram and can only find either a giant sack unhusked or a styromfoam platter of maybe 20-30 peeled cloves, shrink wrapped in plastic.  They eat a lot of raw garlic here.  And raw, marinated onions, too.

The mandu place was cute.  It was very tiny, probably ten feet by... 15 feet?  It had two doors, one on either side, and two tables right between the two doors.  It was so tiny that their kitchen was also the dining area with no barrier between the two, so we got to watch them make our mandu while we waited.  Again, we should have taken pictures, but that was a situation where we sure they liked us and didn't want them to be offended, so.. it was better not to take pictures.

On the way back to our bus stop, we came across this poster all about delicious Autumn food at a sort of Starbucks-esque, gourmet little Korean cafe:

[caption id="attachment_205" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="what a colorful autumn table..."]MAPLEFOOD[/caption]

Wow, such a colorful autumn table.  There's red food, yellow food.... maple food?

[caption id="attachment_206" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="red food, yellow food.... maple food."]MAPLEFOOD2[/caption]

Maple food.  My favorite.

They must have thought, "maple" was synonymous with "brown"...?  Which could normally be true.  Except when you're talking about food...

That was our weekend.  Not incredibly exciting unless it's been a month since you last saw green beans!  But it was fun and we got to take the subway once, too.  Always a fun time.


  1. Oh, Oh...how I miss you! :)

  2. I still come here every day to catch up, but I don't always have anything brilliant to say. I made chocolate peanut butter cupcakes with caramel frosting tonight, though, and they were most excellent!