Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kimchi is Yummy (Really)!

I've never been a picky eater, but something about how Andrenne, one of my room mate in France, described Kimchi totally turned me off from wanting to try it.

While I was in Toronto, though, trying Korean food with my cousin Vivian who taught English in Korea was at the top of my list of things to do. So on my last night in town before going to the airport, we met up and headed to Toronto's Koreatown for dinner. She had a few dishes in mind of what I should try, so she scrupulously read the menus posted in the restaurant windows.

She ordered bibimbap (isn't that the most amusing name?) and a seafood soup dish. While we waited for our food to arrive, Vivian explained to me that Korea is a food-centric culture. Koreans, she said, will greet you asking, "Have you eaten?"

The waiter brought us six different kinds of kimchi, which I tried, and loved. I immediately wondered why I had been so reluctant to try it with Andrenne and Katherine in France (though I'm not sure if I'm quite up to making my own yet). We mixed in kimchi and sriracha into the bibimbap, and savouring the first delicious bite, I declared Koreans the original put an egg on it people.

The most recent sabre-rattling from North Korea seems to have settled down (or the media has moved on). I always wondered what it was like to be in South Korea at such a seemingly tense time. When I asked, Vivian told me that people back home in Canada would be flipping out, but things would be fine in Busan, where she lived, and people just went about their day-to-day activities.

I found this so strange, that I asked my friend Andrea, who is currently teaching in Daegu:
So, I live in Daegu. Which is a lovely (enough) little town about 2 hours from Seoul on the super-fast train. It's actually the third largest city in the country, with a population that hovers close to 3 million people, though it has a decidedly more insular vibe, which makes it feel smaller than Seoul or Busan. I think this also lends to the fact that people here seem to feel fairly removed from the on-goings with North Korea.

I mean, for one thing, the entire nation has been dealing with these tensions with their neighbours to the north for over half a century. They've grown accustomed to the antics of the succession of Kims that autocratically rule above the 38th parallel. So, as far as I've heard, even up in the capital they're feeling fairly nonplussed about the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the western media is apparently making it out like we're on the brink of nuclear annihilation (eeeeek). I've received numerous messages and emails from concerned family and friends over the past week... when, in reality, if it wasn't for them I probably wouldn't even have heard much about this.
If you're curious about Korea, Andrea--who previously taught English in Georgia--writes a clever travel blog. Janis of the blog My Suitcase Heart is also teaching English in Korea and takes magical photographs.. These shots of the azalea festival are especially dreamy.

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