I’m sure many of you wonder what I’m actually eating over here. While I am surrounded by all the major fast food chains that I love, I try to stay away from them. The newly open - directly across the street - Burger King seems be posing a bit of a problem, though. Mostly I try to eat Korean food. It’s cheap, and generally healthy. Even if it’s as simple as kimbap. Over the last week I have tried to take pictures of what I’m eating so you could see this part of Korea. I don’t think I’ve focused much on the food here other than the bbq.
Last week, I got a craving for some fruit. That’s a very strange feeling for me. I guess that shows how very little of it I actually eat here. I stopped at Arista on my way to work. It’s a quick service restaurant/coffee shop that I get sandwiches from a few times a week, and I knew they had a fruit salad on the menu. One of the fun things about Korea is that no matter how straightforward you think something may be, you never know what you are going to end up with. Fruit salad seems pretty basic, right? Well, the Korean version of it is far more literal. A fruit salad is a salad with fruit.
Atop a bed of iceberg lettuce are neatly organized pieces or pineapple, banana, tomato (which are indisputably in the fruit category in Korea), and Kiwi. Yummy. It is also garnished with almonds, dried cranberries, corn, walnuts, and green peppers (you can spot one hanging out under the pineapple). Of course every salad needs dressing. Honey mustard is mixed in beneath the fruit.
I eat an abnormal amount of KitKats here. I forgot how much I like them. And they’ve been on sale lately (2+1!) so I’ve been eating them even more often. Apparently they were on sale to make room for their not so well liked twin, the KicKer. I’m a little miffed because I feel like this was intentionally misleading. It’s not the same.
Occasionally (read: rarely), I will stop and get a real meal before I go to work. I’ve been doing it more now since my hours at work changed and on Thursday’s I have 6 hours to kill before my first class starts. Thursdays are long days.
The main dish here is cheese donkasu (치즈 돈가스). It’s a pan-fried pork cutlet stuffed with cheese. It’s delicious. In my defense, I’ve only eaten this two times in the last ten months. I try to stay away from it. The side dishes are where the meal gets fun! Starting at the top, and going counter-clockwise, we have plain white rice, shredded cabbage with ketchup, a simple spaghetti with undercooked noodles and a red pepper jelly-like sauce, and a miniature strawberry jam sandwich. The corn will be discussed later. I only ate the pork cutlet and the sandwich. The rest of it went in the trash. I tried all of it purely so I could report back to you and the spaghetti about made me sick. Red pepper jelly. Ugh.
It also came with a soup (ish) side. It was probably meant to be a sauce for the donkasu, but it was very similar to vegetable soup. And I love vegetable soup. It was just a little thicker.
I ate most of this before it occurred to me to take a picture. Sorry.
We also have quite of few people selling food on the street. Sardines and different varieties of nuts. Bar snacks that us foreigners remember as being served more as cereal with milk than at a bar with beer. And of course, fruit and vegetables. The above corn on the cob and the apples shown below were all bought from street vendors. I’ve tried to eat a little better lately. I developed some pretty nasty habits since moving here, so, I’m trying to clean them up a bit before I head back stateside. The corn was a gift from a co-worker. They are shucking and steaming the corn on the street corners all evening long. I’ve tried to take pictures of them but they are always cleaning up as I’m walking home from work.
I’m making it a point to try to purchase more street fruits and veggies. I never go to the grocery store. 5 blocks just seems like an awful lot to walk in this heat.
Next, is mandu. You know this as dumplings. It’s incredibly popular here because it’s crazy cheap and it’s pretty yummy. Some is definitely better than others, though. A new street food restaurant opened up in my building a few months ago. They have a really great selection but this is essentially my go-to dinner. While most Korean’s order it in hot sauce, I get it with teriyaki. Less than $3 for 10 mandu. And ten is a lot of mandu. Not totally healthy, but I’m ok with that.
This is weird. I had to take a picture. One of my students was passing this out a few weeks ago. Banana ice cream for everyone! It must have been on sale. He even gave me one and he doesn’t like me much. I was worried that it would have the awful taste of banana flavored Laffy Taffy but it actually tasted like banana ice cream. But it was still weird.
That’s all I have for now. I’ll try to get back in the picture taking routine so you can see a little more of my life and a little less of my frustrations. 3 months left in year one in Korea.