Let’s eat again, like we did two hours ago!

Food and I have an interesting relationship, it goes up as well as down. I’ve been through some rough times as well as some gourmet times. When I first came to Asia I felt like my tongue was under attack by the new textures that I had never experienced before. I remember one time being given a Daifuku gift that my Hong Kong friend was so excited to give and explained that they’re expensive too. I ate one with the same sort of excitement she had, but to my horror they were full of sweet red beans with sticky rice on the outside. The texture really got to me making it really difficult to eat, she quickly offered a drink which I was desperate for but was also in shock to be handed a Heineken, anyway I downed that can of beer like it was water! I’ve come a long way since then, I actually don’t mind them anymore but I do prefer the ice-cream kind.
My first time to Korea, I had no idea how to speak or what to eat. I was given a huge bag of rice by my school which I knew could last a year. Some teachers introduced me to the small corner shops around my small downtown area, but I couldn’t recognize anything I could eat. So I lived on canned tuna and rice unless I went out for dinner to Burger King or the one coffee shop that a friend bought spaghetti for me which I returned to religiously until I met other foreigners. It was an interesting year as I gave up so many things, TV, radio, chocolate, computers, transportation and food that I recognized. I lost a lot of weight then.

Now that it’s going on almost my eighth year in Asia I’m finally gaining control and planning what I eat. It’s hard but easier that I live in this part of Seoul as I’m surrounded by grocery stores that carry some foreign food, a small fruit and veggie market and really good foreign restaurants as well as one of the best kim-chi jjigae restaurants in Seoul as it’s one of my favourite Korean foods. I’m now making my own lunches for work as I gave up eating the school dinners as sometimes there’s not much I could eat. The menu is not something to brag about even the Korean teachers complain at times.
Planning is a little difficult as I have to coordinate my cravings, needs, what ingredients I can get as well as the nutritional values. I use http://www.sparkpeople.com which is awesome as it helps me to plan as well as to break down the calories, fat, carbs and protein for my day. My taste is changing as these days I seem to crave poached eggs like the one in the picture below. There’s a fantastic restaurant near my home that prepares the egg on top of mushrooms, toast with a side of spinach and hummous; that is absolutely delicious!

If you have any recipes for poached eggs please let me know as I found my new love :)

What are some of the strangest foods you have eaten or drinks you have drunk?

Here's my list:
  • turtle jelly and coconut milk drink ~ tasted like wood
  • fried chicken bum ~ it's chicken but I felt so diiiiirty!
  • bird's nest on ice-cream ~ it was slippery
  • pat bing soo/팥빙수 ~ sometimes it's good but please don't put cherry tomatoes in them!
  • cakes that have cherry tomatoes! ~ wierd I really don't like cake in Asia, it's blaaaaaand!
  • salads with lettuce, chicken, corn flakes, corn, sprinkles, mustard, Pringles and ketchup ~ overload of strangeness
  • hot lemon, ginger coke ~ love it, great for sore throats!!!
  • black sesame bubble tea ~ love it, it's my favourite and I MISS it :(

  • This I love, it's batter filled with sweet beans, sold on the street in the winter months. But I can never remember the name cause I never bother to look at the sign as I'm so focussed on eating. They're normally four for a $1!!!


    My teachers used to scream at us for running down the hall, now I know why!

    Well I sure know how to make life more interesting hhmm let’s see….

    Last week as I was running up to teach the 6th graders on the 5th floor, I fell on the stairs in front of many teachers. Major embarrassment; so I was quick to stand up and assure everyone in Korean that I was fine. I’ve done this before ~ a real major clutz I am! So I’m standing there smiling and all, and rubbing my knee to feel a indent that the stair made, “yeah yeah, qwen-chun-a-yo/괜찮아요!” However it felt a little damp, another teacher didn’t quite believe me she was lifting up my pant leg also I looked down to see that my knee was cut open with blood everywhere the other teachers were about to faint as they saw the bone, “Oh shit!”

    I left a trail of blood behind me, as I hobbled along the corridors to visit the nurse’s office the whole time I’m calling myself a baa-bo/바보 (twit). The nurse cleaned up with everyone standing to watch as they were in shock with the amount of blood. But me, who was laughing and smiling ~ baa-bo/바보! After getting permission from the vice principal to visit the hospital (what if they said no), I walked about three blocks to visit an orthopedic. I sat there still smiling as I couldn’t believe what just happened but it was just pure denial, as I knew I was about to have an injection or two along with a few stitches!!! So I had a few x-rays done and phew that was fine then it was time for the sewing to begin. The doctor started by giving me an injection thankfully my body was already in shock and some pain that I couldn’t feel it too much and by the second stitch I could no longer feel anything. The doctor was asking me some questions with his limited English and I was answering in my limited Korean. However things came to a halt when he asked if I was married and I said no, I guess he was in more shock than I was, as he smiled no more! Also I was in more pain I think from the two shots I got in my buttocks ~ I still have bruises!!!

    Cartoon characters reassure your fears!

    I hobbled down to the elevator and off to the yak-guk/약국, (pharmacy) which is when my co-teacher came to rescue me from my adventures of being a dumb foreigner but instead she found me conversing with the pharmacist and the grandmothers around me as they were so happy I spoke some Korean.

    Hobbling became me as I was still smiling and thinking what a twit I am and what bad timing. The next day was one of my biggest days of my teaching career, (*I will go into more details later). I got back to school and went straight to class with my bloody pants, not the most hygienic and I’m sure if I was in the States I would have been burned at the stake for doing such a thing. The kids were already told that I was in hospital so they were super sympathetic ~ bless their hearts! At lunch my friend/roomie came to the rescue with fresh black pants; okay I lied they weren’t so fresh I worn them the day before but they were the most comfortable thing to wear at this point as well as me having to explain it's location; no don’t worry they weren’t in the dirty hamper!

    Two of the five students who acted in the play.

    *So here we are at the part I said I would tell you later.

    I had been preparing five of my students for a competition amongst other schools from our district. The kids and myself wrote a script for a news broadcast that was quite humorous. We had to practice at least three times a week and last Wednesday was the big day, hence the bad timing to fall on stairs! I even worked on my holidays to get this thing done, prepared the set and all the props. I wanted the kids to be more involved however the poor things have so many private classes after school hours, which is rather ridiculous, plus they had their midterms last week. I was the only teacher involved with more teachers giving a helping hand the closer we got to the main day. We had to take the whole thing to another school, which was hosting the competition, and Young-joo was the sweetest, by driving the props and myself there and back.

    At the school all the other groups were busily preparing which motivated my kids too who were busily eating junk food of all sorts ~ sshhh I can’t tell their mums as one kid put it, his mum would kill him! What was really funny was so many teachers came from my school to help us, as well as all the mothers, we had the biggest group there! But it was so annoying; another foreign teacher Malcolm and myself kept directing others in what they have to do to help us get everything onto the stage. When it came down to it almost everyone disappeared leaving the two of us to do it all, remember I’m the one that was limping!

    The kids did a fantastic job; we had two presenters sitting at a desk with three boys acting like field reporters. The first report was about the camping trip the sixth graders took and Harry the fishing expert then they talked about studying, preparing for their midterms. The last was a report on the school pond, which was funny to us as I still can’t find my school’s pond but the school that was hosting this competition had a huge pond with a stream, a mini bridge as well as a waterfall. All the kids were laughing about it before we got on the stage. The show ended wonderfully as the kids were humorous and entertaining, so much so that we won! Now we have to do it again in Seoul National University ~ argh!