Sunday, February 04, 2007

Qu'est-ce que tu as fait le weekend?

Saw lots of public art this weekend in Seoul including these beautiful flowers in the sky (they're actually floating hanbok, silk traditional dresses) and a show in memory of video artist Nam June Paik.

Song-Ei and I also had a long sit in a gorgeous tea house called, appropriately enough, The Beautiful Tea Museum. We ordered a new variation on a fave of mine, pat bing su, but this one is green tea bing su. A giant, pale green puffball of shaved ice with sweet red beans, cashews and almonds inside. Yow! Song-Ei ordered a slice of sweet potato cake which tastes like regular cake with bits of starchy potato in it for in case you want to get berserkers with the carbs.

We walked along Cheunggyecheun, a riverside pedestrian area below street-level. As we walked, we heard the old bell toll twelve times at noon, a plaintive, reverberating Korean-sounding bell. The river is a nice respite from the street and to cross it you walk along stones. That is SO Korean! No North American city would have a bridge without a handrail. Liability!

When we got to Insa-dong we saw an old couple in traditional dress making ddeok the traditional way, which is apparently, the giant way. A giant mortar, a giant hammer/pestle that he swung overhead, giant clay pots to steam rice. Right next to it, there was a street-level karaoke contest going on, a la "Insa-dong Idol". I love the seamless, surreal transition from old to new. Earlier in the day, I saw a super modern glass and steel building (the kind that is meant to impress but actually might be pretty ugly) right next to the bell tower that houses the bell that rang at noon. It's been there since 1392!

For dinner, we went to a place that's famous for its mandu (dumplings) and kalguksu (noodle soup). Song-Ei warned me but still, when I walked in the garlic hit me in the face. It was the garlickiest meal of my entire life and it was the first time I've been able to enjoy a meal since getting sick last week - loved it!

Everything here cost 6000 won (about $7). The line-up went down 3 flights of stairs and out onto the street but we were still seated within 10 minutes. Once we sat, I realized why. Our table was set with our after dinner mints already in place. The lady took our order before I had my coat off. I paid when she took the order. The food was in front of our face within 30 seconds and a lady in an apron with tongs went around replenishing the kimchi plates before the last piece was gone. That was her sole job. She was the kimchi lady.

Today I will complete my transformation into a fully-fledged Korean person rather than being just a kyopo (a foreign-born ethnic Korean). Not only do I eat alarming amounts of garlic and yukgaejang for breakfast (super spicy red soup) but today I will be getting a perm. Now I just have to add cute charms to my cell phone (well, first I have to get one and then start calling it a "handphone") and my transformation will be complete.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

haha you're getting a pah-mah?

and it's all about the handphones. fo' real though.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Like Hannah. Good to see things are going well. Andy.

5:24 PM  

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