On November 11th, 2011, in Korea, it was known as Pepero Day in honor of Korea’s version of the Pocky sticks. They’re generally long and thin biscuits covered in some sort of sweet, sugary chocolate/frosting. Of course, there are several varieties out there and though Pocky hosts a lot more flavors, Pepero’s selection isn’t all that bad because it means I’ll eat less (or that’s the idea). There are the giant Pepero sticks the length of your forearm (this may depend on how long your forearm is but for the sake of visualising it, however long your forearm is is how long this particular snack is), the waffle-based kinds, the ones studded with almonds or peanuts, the strawberry flavored type, as well as Nude Pepero – which is my favorite. Nude Pepero is basically a hollow biscuit tube filled with chocolate.
Tag Archives: food
I was visiting one of my friends in the city earlier today and she told me about this cute little mom-and-pops place that sold pies. There are some things you can’t really get in Korean and authentic, North American pies are one of them (unless you make a trip to Costco). It’s a nice little place off the main road and around a 5 to 6-minute walk from Timeworld Galleria in Dunsan-dong by the name of Mama’s Pie (and yes, it does bother me how the name suggests “Mama” only has one pie). There’s also a really nice-sized terrace with some seating and tables offered, topped off with umbrellas to fend off the sun’s harmful rays (un-pictured).
I don’t eat meat. I don’t like spicy food. It’s funny how one of my favorite ethnic cuisines included Indian back in the States, though I suppose the fact that Indian food is vegetarian friendly helps as well and as long as I had a cup of water at my side, I was safe. It’s also funny how I chose to live in Korea. Well, I finally visited an Indian restaurant in Daejeon last night while meeting some friends and their friends; they had come down from Chungju.
I was so excited.
This post has taken a long time to be written, but I finally found the time!
For Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving, my friend and I decided to take a day trip to the fourth largest metropolitan city in Korea, with Daejeon being the fifth largest. If you didn’t know, it’s Gwangju. The city’s to the southwest of the country and when my Co’s first heard of it, they told me it was a horrible idea. Why? Traffic sucks during Chuseok, when families tend to get out of the cities to visit their families and have huge get-togethers, especially if you’re traveling south. In fact, this was what my head Co told me:
Last year, my brother came down from Seoul to visit and he fell asleep on the bus. When he woke up, he was still in Gyeonggi-do*! It took him almost six hours to get to Daejeon**.
* Gyeonggi-do is the province surrounding Seoul
** It normally takes around 2 hours by train to get from Daejeon to Seoul
The other week, I saw these curious stands popping up at intersections in my neighborhood. They were orange and had these plastic covers around the stall itself – usually clear – and there were the hangeul 흑쌀 잉어빵* (heukssal ingeobbang) scrawled across the top. To translate, it’s basically a fish pastry with a sweet bean filling encased in a thin wheat and glutinous rice flour dough. What made this place even more special is that there’s 흑쌀 (or black rice) included in the dough so it comes out slightly golden but with a grey-ish undertone. I broke down one day and got three for 1,000 won. What makes this even better is that they come in this bag:
There’s nothing better than eating fish (to me, it’s eating fish) and knowing that the bag the fish was in (and therefore the fish themselves) were telling me to be happy. But they’re seriously very cute – and good! I actually got them two days in a row because the first time I got them, I forgot to take pictures. But it’s dangerous! The stall is on my route home from school, so I pass it once a day at least, and when I exercise self-control, my nose can smell the delicious scent of it cooking in the metal molds. It’s heavenly. ^^ It’s a good thing that it’s too early to be open when I’m walking to school every morning or I can imagine I’d gain weight fast.
Yes, I know. It’s a strange concept that I ate fruit here willingly, but in my defense, grapes are one of the safe fruits that I’ll eat on occasion, unlike other fruits that leave my lips, mouth, and/or throat tingling. Plus, coming to a new country, you’ve got to try new things, right? I’ve had those weird yellow melon-fruits the Koreans here love eating (with the seeds) and I decided that I didn’t like it. However, these grapes are something else. Literally.
At first glance, it looks like your normal bunch of grapes, but then you take a closer look and you realise that the grapes are a bit more rounder. However, the taste is where you can really tell the difference from grapes back in the States. The first time I had them was with my coteachers during school lunch. Like regular grapes, I just popped them into my mouth, chewed it, and spit out the seeds – yes, Korean grapes contain seeds. Then, I started noticing something strange: the Koreans around me made the grape eating process a lot more complicated:
- Using a thumb and forefinger, they bring one plump grape to their lips and they start sucking on it while lightly pinching the other end. Interestingly enough, the flesh will neatly pop out (I’ve had instances where some juice squirted out the other end, though) and into your mouth.
- Discard the skin.
- Spit out the seeds and proceed to process the grape or lightly chew the grape flesh without breaking open the seeds and swallow.
It took me the third time I encountered the grapes to try this new method of eating the little guys because, well, my taste palate isn’t picky. As long as it’s edible, I’ll put it in my mouth, chew, and swallow. However, I did taste something off — the skin of a Korean grape is rather thick, for one. The flesh itself is sweet but it’s also has a slightly slimy texture to it that isn’t found in the grapes I’m used to. It’s nothing big, but it’s present. The seeds taste like, well, seeds. Plus, this trying of local mannerisms is all a part of learning about the local culture and people, right? And so I tried it.
The first time I tried sucking out the flesh from it’s skin in order to consume it “properly”, there was a small explosion of grape juice coming from the side of the grape not in my mouth. Once you get that part down, however, it’s fairly straightforward as long as you’re familiar with the idea of mastication and swallowing. Then after several more tries, these successful, I decided I liked the method better because (1) I’m in Korea now, (2) it’s a bit more hygienic since I’m not actually directly touching the food I would be ingesting, and (3) I like the feel of when the flesh schloops into my mouth. Oh yes, and how could I forget about how utterly beautifully they’re packed? I only got two bunches for a little over 2,000 won nestled in their own special packing paper on top of a styrofoam dish. They were absolutely pleasing to look at and none of the grapes looked to be remotely bruised or anything.
It was perfect.
Plus, I decided that I needed to branch out from my occasional banana buying; I needed a larger variety of fruits in the apartment and they seemed reasonable priced. You can also buy them in big boxes, that resemble potential gift sets, starting/averaging from around 14,000 won each – or 10,000 won on the streets. There’s just the problem that I’m only one person, so I opted out.
Anyway, with these grapes, you have people who love them and people who don’t. And then you have people who love them and also did their research. From that, I found out that these grapes actually hail from the States (or at least some guy in the States bred them) even though they’re more popular in Asia and that contrary to popular knowledge and belief, they’re not actually called Korean grapes at all. They’re actually Campbell Early Grapes (I’ve also seen it as “Campbell’s Early Grapes”) and they’re in season at around now (September/October).
…I prefer calling them Korean grapes.
I have a history with this place – you know, other than being ethnically Chinese.
At one point, I considered it home whilst studying abroad and when it was time to go back to the States, I did it reluctantly. No. It was more than reluctance and if I had more money and didn’t have a round trip ticket back to the States with my name on it, I probably wouldn’t have come back. I had the time of my life there during those four short months and to have it taken away without my say-so tore at me. Needless to say, I was in a state of depression for the following months. Yes, I pluralised ‘month’. I suppose I’ve still been under this withdrawal but the thing was I got used to it so the aching wasn’t at for the forefront of my mind… following the first five months of my return.
Therefore, it makes sense that on my first return back to Asia since then, I decided that China would definitely be one of my stops during my vacation. And so, here I am, posting about the China Part of my 2011 Vacation Tour through East Asia. 🙂
It all started on a normal day, as these things tend to go.
I was walking to taekwondo and suddenly, I feel something vibrate in my bag – it was my cell phone. Who in the world would be calling me at this time, I thought, but it all made sense when I looked at the caller ID. Two days earlier, I went on a business trip to a nearby elementary school, around a 20-minute walk away from my own school, for a meeting regarding Hermes camp. It’s an English camp during the vacation sponsored by the city and various native teachers are recruited for it. Like most things in Korea, things are usually done last minute and, unsurprisingly, I’m usually the last one to find out which makes it really last minute for me. I was required to go to my kids’ class and then right afterwards, I was told that I should “probably go now” since I planned on walking.
Last weekend marked my first birthday in Korea. I was planning on having a small little celebration – perhaps even a private one. After all, my previous birthdays for the past couple of years all landed on test days and work days, so the fact that this was the first birthday in a while that landed on a weekend was enough of a celebration for me. However, that’s not the case. One of my good friends, my old orientation roommate, insisted on making it a big deal and had everything planned out. Food, cake, fireworks…
She came in with our mutual friend, who I met through her, on Friday night. After taekwondo, we all went out with two taekwondo instructors and Daehan, the only other person around my age in taekwondo who comes in semi-regularly. I had invited them the night before and it turns out that they accepted. Well, we all got into the taekwondo van – the girls were running late – and went to a small eatery first. Instructor dropped us off and he took the longest time getting back. Turns out it was because he was getting me a cake. It turned out to be a Kim Yuna Blueberry Cake. The cutest little thing ever! However, when I said my friends were running late, it was more like they were on the way to Daejeon and then when I was done with taekwondo, they had arrived at the Daejeon Dongbu Bus Terminal. Basically, it meant that it would take them 45 minutes to get to where I was.
Okay, so that may not make much sense, but to me, milk is life. I feel sad when I run out of milk. Almost even lost. It keeps my body temperature down, it’s cool (cold), and it’s just refreshing and delicious. Just to let you know, I love it in the winter too. When I was living alone, I drank a gallon of milk within a week and it was great. When I travel, nothing changes, though I probably drink less than a gallon of milk per week, haha. Even so, milk is still a routine item on my grocery list, along with a host of other dairy products, hence the reason why I decided to do a post on milk and show you how much I love it.