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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Eating Squirrel. Korean B.B.Q. Date Tonight.

Jang Lim Chung said, "I respect what you want. You want our food or do you want me to search for Western food?" I told him I wanted an authentic Korean evening so he hailed a cab and took me to a famous B.B.Q. restaurant in Suwon. When we walked through the door, a woman in a white apron told us to remove our footwear.

The tables stood a foot and a half high and there were pillows for chairs. We sat cross legged, across from each other, and grilled raw beef on coals in the middle of the table. The waitress kept bringing us small dishes of food to compliment the meat.

We drank "Soju." It's a popular drink in Japan and Korea with 20 to 40% alcohol content. Drinking is a big part of Korean culture.

There were families surrounding us at tables and the older women, especially, enjoyed watching me struggle with chop sticks and choke down Soju when Jang told me exactly what I was eating. When one woman left, she nodded at Jang as if to say, "good man. Teach that Canadian girl about our culture. Teach her good."

Koreans, like most Asians, respect their elders. When Jang Lim Chung and I drank shots of Soju, we looked each other in the face because we're considered equals, but when taking a shot with an elder, it's respectful to turn your head.

Jang did a lot of talking tonight. He brought along a palm pilot with Hangul/English translation. We also had a pad of paper that was covered in scribbling by the end of the night. He told me about the influence of confucianism in Korea, and about his time spent in the Korean marine. He still sends food to guys in the army.

He had done his homework and kept repeating the phrase, "I promise I won't touch your privacy." He learned through our worldwide web that American women pride independance and privacy. He wanted me to know that he wouldn't be an intrusive friend.

We ended off the night by going to a bar. It was similar in appearance to any dingy bar you'd see in small town Ontario. We ordered a pitcher of Korean beer & I was shocked when Jang pointed to the menu and asked what I wanted. It's customary to eat when you drink, whether or not you've just had dinner.

Everytime a glass was poured, it bubbled over with foam and the bartender rushed over with napkins. We were set to watch an 11:00 movie but I was tired with all of that alcohol and food in my system so I thanked Jang for the nice evening and started my walk home.

He was insulted when I refused to let him walk me. He said it was dangerous but I didn't feel like I needed to be protected.

2 comments:

Josh said...

So what tastes better: Golden Retriever or Poodle?
Would my dog (a Golden Doodle) be considered "fusion food" to them?

It sounds like you're in a far-away land, love. It will be an adventure for you to find common ground. Also, you can have some fun with them by making up Canadian culture. For example, telling the locals: "In Canada, we all pray to Celine Dion and renovate our igloos with modern luxuries, like heated snow."

Greg: you can also say things like this to Americans and they'll also be fooled ;0


Josh

Anonymous said...

Koreans do not eat pet-dog. There is a different kind of dog that is edible like cows or pigs as a source of protein. That specie is caled "Dong-gae". You western people should be more considerate about talking other peoples' food source. They are not all blessed with various kinds of meats as you enjoy. Some have very limited source of meat. -cosmopolitan