Monday, July 13, 2009

Rice Cakes Between Wonju and Seoul

Last weekend we drove to Gyeongju, a beautiful tourist spot, for a triathlon. It rained...a lot. We decided to take a new route home and found ourselves in horrible traffic. Eric saved time by driving on the shoulder and flashing his emergency lights. (The Korean "I'm Sorry" signal.)
As usual, merchants emerged selling rice cakes:
These rice cakes resemble the Quaker plain rice cakes, only larger and more rice-like. We opted for food at the next rest area. We both ate Western fast food. I had the chicken sandwich:

Of course, it had a "food story."

It contained mustard, cabbage, and a relish-mayonnaise sauce. Normally I would have avoided the condiments. It's funny how I've become less picky now that I can't communicate special requests.
For dessert we shared our delimanjoos, the custard-filled corn cakes:
As we neared the Banpo bridge, we saw that the lower deck was COMPLETELY flooded:
Normally this bridge has an upper AND lower deck. Also, the bike path was completely submerged! Worst flood we've seen here in four years. I'm glad we were out of town for the weekend.

Hotteok Good-bye

With only an hour of free time, my friend and I decided to go to I-Park mall. She said good-bye to her favorite bun lady and DVD man. We bought one final hotteok. It was cold and dry, the worst we had ever eaten. Definitely a sign that now is the time for departure. Thirteen more days!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sangria Good-bye

I had a good-bye potluck with a few nice ladies from my office. We ate a mix of Korean and Cuban foods. The Korean foods included gimbap and bulgogi. I made my "famous" berry crisp. The best part of the meal (other than juicy work gossip) was the homemade sangria! I'll miss nights like these. I'm sure I won't make as many friends in Kansas. Not to mention the dearth of Korean products!

Now I'm Thinking About It...

I had forgotten about the melamine scare until I purchased these crackers in Hong Kong. Great way to ruin my appetite!

Chinese Dinner - Hong Kong

Before the yoga conference started, we took the Star Ferry to Kowloon:We ate at a dim sum restaurant. We shared sweet-and-sour breaded fish: Vegetable and rice wraps:

Crispy fried dough:
Tangy cucumber skins:
Hot tea served in water glasses:
My friend's sister, a prominent yoga instructor in Korea, ordered seconds of everything! For petite Korean women, they ate a lot!
I was surprised by people's eating habits at the conference. Many people skipped breakfast, believing that the food would impair their yoga practices. (We practiced strenuous yoga four hours in the morning.) Others merely ate salads or nibbled on carrots for lunch.
I brought my own food and ate hearty oatmeal, protein powder, deli sandwiches, Chinese buns, and Odwalla bars. One day I followed my teacher's advice and skipped breakfast. What a mistake! I felt extremely hungry and ultimately ate more food than usual. I guess my friends ate such a huge Chinese dinner because of their daytime eating habits!

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm down to 6 weeks in Korea. My friend and I created a "Korean Bucket List" of everything we want to do before we leave. Once we start on that bucket list, I'll have more photos! Also, anticipate some posts related to my Hong Kong trip.
Here are a few random Korean food items:
-The PX was out of Centrum. Older Koreans love Centrum, especially bottles with American labels. My friend from the states sends them to his grandmother here.
-My SO competed in a long distance triathlon in Jeju over the weekend. The finish line lacked fresh, cold water! His only choices were hot soup, tea or coffee on a hot day! That's what he gets for finishing too fast!
-Yesterday I sampled Australian moscato and red sweet the grocery store! Heineken beer was also available to taste.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good-bye at Berlin and B1

Saturday night was ladies' night dinner at Berlin in Itaewon. Sadly (or happily) everyone will be moving soon.

One person received her dish ten minutes before the other dishes. I've noticed that Korean restaurants often serve food with no regard to timing. I don't know how many times I've eaten my appetizer with my main course or while my husband watches me hungrily. The reason? Since Koreans normally share dishes (pancheon, grilling meats, etc.), timing is unimportant. We joked that our friend should not wait for our meals to eat. As the oldest person at the table, she was suppoed to eat first by Korean culture!

We shared two pitchers of sangria. In Korea, the younger person should pour drinks for the older person. You should never pour your own drink. Here is one of our designated drink pourers:
After dinner we strolled to B1 to meet the guys. (They were having their own dinner.) We drank Suburbans (my friend's signature drink from her bartender days) and snacked on a cookie gift box from Shinsegae Department Store:

A few minutes later the guys came downstairs. My husband was carrying his protein shaker bottle! In a bar!?!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Daegu Olympic Triathlon

Despite the rain, we drove to Daegu for an Olympic triathlon. I had a meal of hobak juk:

And a tiny piece of bread:Plenty of beta carotene but not enough calories! Later I bought a red bean bun at Family Mart. We stayed at a love hotel. Usually love hotels charge by the hour, and you have to pay cash. Instead of a key, the clerk buzzes you up. The parking lot entrance is shrouded with a tattered plastic curtain for car privacy. The rooms have always been really nice, though I don't know who would use the community toothpaste and hair brush!
Anyway, the weather was perfect the next morning. I swam and biked just for the chance to run:Every lap I passed a table of choco pies (a staple at Korean races), bananas, gatorade, and water. The race is too short for a choco pie, in my opinion! My SO swears by the Korean cake rolls for his long runs, though.
Every athlete received a meal upon finishing:The meal included seaweed soup, rice, vegetables, kimchi, and breaded meat cutlets. When I briefly walked away from the meals, an old man approached and picked up one of the boxes! I hurried back and grabbed the box from his hands. He looked as confused as I was. Then he used hand gestures to ask me to get him his own box! Mind you, he was not in the race. I pretended I did not understand.

In retrospect I should have given him the meal. I didn't eat it. Concentrated calories and simple sugars are best directly after a race. From what I've seen at Korean races, people either don't know or don't care about optimal recovery. Perhaps the Korean post-race meal is for celebration, not recovery. In which case, the meal was perfect!

Hwaguesa Temple

I spent a Sunday afternoon at Hwaguesa Temple, near Bukhansan: A monk greeted us in French and led us to an eating area for foreigners:

Everyone else ate in the noisy outer area. Our meal included rice and various sidedishes and fruit:
We accidentally sat at the "monks only" table and ate their black bean rice cakes and oranges:
Since you should eat everything you take, I filled my bowl conservatively. Mushrooms, pineapple, tofu, and rice:

The meal was free, so I wondered how many hikers stopped merely for the food. Donations, of course, were welcome. After the meal, we headed upstairs for 1:30 of meditation. Talk about challenging. I much prefer a 4am meditation to a food coma post-lunch one!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Brigade Spring Ball - Hyatt Hotel

Last night we attended a military function:My vegetarian dish was a mixture of mushrooms, pastry, and vegetables: Initially I received the beef plate, which my SO quickly grabbed and scraped on his plate. Actually, he managed to eat double the portions for every course. He even drank two water glasses at a time!
My last military function for quite some time!

Nine Course Chinese Meal

The conference gala included a fancy Chinese dinner. I had hoped for Malaysian food. (I hadn't eaten Chinese food since my trip to Beijing in 2001.) I loved the multiple courses. We had plenty of time to socialize.
In the beginning, I sat at a table of American dietetians. Then I saw the appetizers arrive. Meat, meat, and more meat:
A server dished up our portions for each course:
Soon after receiving this meaty plate, I followed another dietetian to a vegetarian table full of Indian ladies. The rest of our courses contained mock meat. I had forgotten that texturized protein could have so many different flavors and textures (not all good).
Roasted mock chicken:
Wok-fried fresh mock prawns:
Mushroom and vegetable stir fry, the best course:

Dessert was a chilled soup of gingko nuts, red dates and white fungus. Several ladies skipped this course and headed to Hard Rock Cafe instead. Thousands of miles from home, and we still go to American chains!

AODA Conference - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I have been looking forward to the American Overseas Dietetic Association convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the past two years. I enjoyed meeting American dietetians working everywhere from Venezuela to Thailand. The big buzz words at the conference were vitamin D, probiotics, and prebiotics.
I ate plenty of papaya and red-fleshed dragonfruit. I had red finger tips every morning!

Between lectures we snacked on Malaysian foods.We also enjoyed free food samples, one perk of a dietetics career. Yakult is a Japanese probiotic drink. This weight loss supplement was everywhere. How could you miss the not-so-subtle advertisting?
Malaysians include durian in many products, including chocolate. You can also find durian vendors on the street. If the ground is sticky and the air is pungent, you've reached a durian stand.
A baby pineapple:

A mix-it-yourself beverage with grass-like ingredients at Central Market.
Fruit drinks and fried food. Vendors dunked dough and meat into batter with their bare hands. Messy work!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ggaman kong drink hits the spot

Ggaman kong means black bean. As a drink, it's delicious! I can taste roasted beans in every sip. The drink contains no sweetener. My friend says this drink is popular here.
I drank mine at Gyerong Station, near Daejon:
This tea hit the spot after a dehydrating weekend at the buddhist temple.

Musangsa Temple Stay

I enjoyed my brief weekend at Musangsa, a buddhist temple near Daejon. This temple was perfect for foreigners, since most of the monks were European or American. In fact, I met a few twenty-something American monks. (Do they write "unemployed" on their income tax forms?)
I expected strict rules based on a booklet I had read. I knew the food would be vegetarian, based on local produce, and free of onions, garlic and other spices. (Perfect for me!)
The first night we ate in silence on individual mats. Fortunately they served pasta and sandwiches along with Korean food. I chose carefully because we had to eat everything. At the end of the meal, the monks filled their empty food bowls with warm water, swished it around, and drank it. I sneakily wiped my bowl with a napkin and went to bed thirsty.
The next morning after at 3am wake-up drum, 108 bows in the Zen Room, morning chanting, and 1:20 of sitting zen, I enjoyed gruel in silence:
The gruel was a tasty mix of grains and pine nuts. Side dishes included peanut butter, soy sauce, kimchi'i, radishes, beans, and tofu.
I could barely stomach another meal in silence. I guess we were supposed to focus on our food. Instead, I yearned for social contact. Fortunately, after this meal and some chores we had a second breakfast. We shared lively conversation about movies and ate chocolate, homemade pizza, fruit, and tea. One monk made a Polish fruit-and-nut concoction to share.
Fortunately on Sundays the lunch was open to the community and thus very lively. The monks ate in silence at separate tables. Here was the monk spread (eaten with rice, of course):
Here is a view of the mens' table from the outside:
One thing missing was a drinking cup. If we didn't drink from our dirty bowls then we went thirsty. I know that in many countries people do not drink water with meals. Americans, though, are drinking water anywhere, all the time, these days.
Anyway, our meal included salad, Korean pancakes, side dishes, and rice:
We also ate pumpkin rice cakes:
Don't be misled - they might be called "cakes," but they are not sweet!
We also ate this delicious corn chowder:
In our free time we took walks. We found the temple's kimchi'i pots:
And watched several older ladies pick this plant (ssuk), an ingredient for some green-colored rice cakes:

I hope to return again in June or July!