Sunday, March 15, 2009

Laver Lament

I thought I'd add laver, a kind of seaweed, to my diet for the iodine. I rarely use table salt, the primary source of iodine for Americans. Of course, I consume salt in processed foods, but that salt is not iodized.
Here are different types of seaweed for sale in Myeongdong. They may be seasoned, salted, or well-oiled.
Seaweed is ubiquitous in foods here. I always brush the green bits aside, though. I found a small pack at a convenience store:It sat in my cabinet for months until I decided to open it for a blog picture! I know people love rice with laver. In fact, you can buy it as a snack at convenience stores. I just can't do it, though, despite the health benefits. Maybe I should have been exposed to more foods as a kid.

Ladies Night - Mexican Potluck

Not Korean food, but food nonetheless. I hosted my first ever ladies' night on Saturday:Everyone prepared foods from scratch. My friend concocted a "Mexican salad dressing" with cheese, lime, and peppers. We used fresh lime and homemade simple syrup for our strong margaritas.

Here we are before our dinner. We're all leaving within the next four months, and this dinner was a "good-bye" for some.
My dinner plate: chicken enchiladas, salad, refried beans, Spanish rice. I made the refried beans myself using good old bagged beans. It makes a BIG difference.

After dinner we played a get-to-know-you game. The winner won this 'regifted' item. Some of you may recognize it as my husband's Lunar New Year gift! Note the missing bottle.
We finished our meal with fresh cut fruit and this low-fat flan. Delicious!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chopsticks on the Cheap

Another Saturday afternoon of shopping at Insadong: We bought handfuls of these natural wood utensils for 1000W each ($1 ~ 1520 won). The mini spoons will be perfect for appetizers and spreads. Wooden chopsticks are perfect for me - I struggle with the slippery metal ones!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Here is a unique gum flavor:
Mangosteen contains xanthones, antioxidants that could have health benefits. As usual, more research is needed. (Antioxidants have proven financial benefits, though, for the functional food industry.) The astringent rind houses the antioxidants, while the flesh only provides flavor.
It has been used for traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. However, the U.S. would not import it until 2007, when fruit irradiation was allowed.

Here are some other gums:

Energizing label:
I can just smell the rotting fish with this vivid name:
Sharp shape:
OK...I will now go back to my Orbit.

Paying the Phone Bill

My friend and I walk to the KT building from work to pay our phone bill. We always take the same route and stop at the same stores.
Narrow one-way street:
Walk-up coffee on the one-way street:
Outdoor refrigeration (Not 40 degrees F, however...thank goodness!):
Upscale, modern buildings smothering old charm:

One of many convenience stores where I buy my popcorn. Many stores have plastic lawn chairs and tables for the customers:
Finally, KT Plaza, where we waited a mere 10 minutes:
The infamous double barber shop poles. I've heard that double-poled places are off limits. Are the rumors true?
Family Mart, where we always buy grain drinks and chat with the clerk in English (he likes it):
We added a new stop on our route - a Tous les Jours bakery:
The store was warm and buttery. I have a mild butter phobia and didn't last long.
Trays and tongs to select baked goods. Should tongs be used for wrapped items?
Recently we learned that we can pay our phone bill at any convenience store, not just the KT store. We decided to walk there anyway. Habits are hard to break!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gyeongbok Palace - Starch Attack

On Sunday we returned to Gyeongbokgung for an English-language tour. I enjoyed walking around the King's Quarters barefoot. Food venders lined the palace's exterior wall:
Chestnuts are a nut by nature but not by nutrition. The chestnut's high starch content rivals that of the potato. It's low in fat and a good source of vitamin C and iron. A 100-g serving has 201 kcals, 45 g carbs, 1 g fat, 3 g protein, 47% of vit C, and 12% iron. For comparison, 100-g of baked potato contains 21 g carbs.
Another vendor actually sold potatoes (and grilled squid):

The potatoes reminded me of the greasy potato sticks my sister loved as a kid. Do cold, thin-cut, oily fries taste good? Crusty, thick-cut, seasoned steak fries with a ramekin of ketchup sound better to me!

En Route to Okinawa

Eric took a business trip to Okinawa last week. He called it the "hidden Hawaii of Japan." Sounds tantalizing! Even though these photos aren't Korean, I like the fact that he took them just for me.Eric survives on curry pork cutlets every time he races Ironman Japan: A Korean food court listed cutlets as "Western food." I would never consider a cutlet an American food, though we do have some breaded meats that resemble cutlets. The breaded pork and rice combination seems like an "Asian food" to me.

Myeongdong Shopping Break

Saturday's cool weather was perfect for outdoor shopping at Myeongdong. My friends and I rested at a cafe. Like European cafes, Korean cafes sell alcoholic beverages AND teas. I opted for the citron tea (yuja cha). Made from the lemon-like yuja, this tea is a comfort drink for the sick. Sweetened with sugar and honey, it's the perfect mix of sweet and sour. The marmalade-like mixture is sold in jars. I love the chewy rinds that lurk at the bottom of the glass. My friend wanted a sip. She has a jar of citron tea at home, but they use it on toast, not as tea!
We also ate complimentary snacks:
Peanuts with sweet, seaweed-infused sticks. I love the sweet-and-savory taste of Korean snack foods.
On the other hand, I do not like the buttery, light nature of Korean cakes. Looks pretty, though!