Friday, September 02, 2011

Pizza Fish

Work has most definitely picked up. I've been wary about being too open about the details of my working life in Korea- it's a different country, after all, and I don't know how they feel about blogging and whatnot.

I will divulge that there has been a bit of general upheaval in the post-production industry in Korea, and that's causing ripples through my workplace. (I still can't quite call it "my company" yet.)

Because of this, that, and the other thing, I've been busy. I actually had to go to Seoul yesterday for a meeting. At a hotel. I don't think I've ever had a real meeting in a hotel before, so that was weird. Weirder still was that this meeting was in the lobby (of the Shilla Hotel), where we were discussing all kinds of things about one of the movies currently in production at my workplace. Things that normally wouldn't be talked about in the lobby of a hotel (even if it is a really, really nice hotel).

The meeting was pretty dang long, too. I had to get caffeine to stay awake, so I ordered an iced latte (it was hot yesterday, y'all). It was enormous and it had round ice. I have been curious about round ice ever since I read an article somewhere about how scotch is best with one big round ice ball in it (I keep typing "ice cube"). And here I am, years later, with unexpected round ice in my (hideously expensive) coffee.

You bet I snuck a picture of the coffee. I was so intrigued by the round ice, I couldn't resist. I thought the thing in the long white container was a stick to stir my coffee, but it was a straw. A straw in a heavy paper container, with a pre-perforated tab so that I could easy get the straw out. Ridiculous. Less ridiculous is the little silver container, which contained simple syrup. I didn't use any, but I really appreciate that all coffee shops in Korea have simple syrup- I do not enjoy stirring sugar granules into my iced coffee, should I want some sweetness.

After the long meeting at the Shilla, I trekked back to Ilsan and went straight home, because it was almost 9:00 at night and I didn't feel like making an appearance at work. I was cranky and tired, a bad combination.

Today hasn't been much better- it's been hectic, I'm still oddly tired out, and there's a mountain of work to be done. But I came back to my desk after a meeting today to a little surprise.
Fish! No ... bread! This is not 붕어빵, the wintry treat that I love- that is a thinner pastry, filled with something sweet (red bean paste, honey, or whatever the trend might be now)- this is sort of like a calzone. This particular one was pizza flavored. The bad news is, I would not have guessed that it was pizza flavored from tasting it. One of my co-workers told me "it's pizza flavored! It's good, eat it!" so I dutifully bit in.
I mean, honestly, Korea. Corn? In pizza? (Okay, Koreans seem to put corn in everything, so maybe that's not quite fair.) A cute little company called 해삐 소뿡이 (Happy SoBboongYi) specializes in these funny little things, selling them with all kinds of fillings. Like I said, it didn't taste like pizza- but it was still good.

The bread was really good, much better than any calzone I've ever had. I'm sure you can tell that it's good from the grease stains on the paper. The crust was so buttery that I'm afraid that the grease was all butter, but I have no confirmation and I'm certainly not going to check the website to see if butter is their first ingredient.

The filling was ... not pizza, but it was okay. I like vegetables, and it was mostly vegetables. No real tomato sauce, which is fine by me, and random chunks of ham, with little round slices of pepperoni (the pepperoni here is really, really mild). Since I didn't have lunch today, this was a nice afternoon snack.

My eating habits in Korea are getting weirder and weirder. I have no idea why, but I have been all about soups and stews. It's still fairly hot and summery, so I'm obviously just losing my mind a bit.

I've been eating things in Korea that I wouldn't eat back home, which is also weird. I had crab two nights ago. I went to dinner with a bunch of co-workers, and we went to have 백숙 (baek-sook), which is apparently a healthy dish. The restaurant we went to was supposed to be very good, and there were all kinds of things stewing with the (giant) chicken- ginseng, roots, garlic, abalone (ew), and so on and so forth. The chicken was okay (a little gamey, actually, because I guess you're supposed to use really large chickens for baeksuk and smaller chickens for samgyetang), but the 매운탕 (maeuntang), a spicy, steaming hot soup, was really good.

I have always loved maeuntang, but this was especially good, with 수제비 (sujebi, a dough made of flour and water that is torn and dropped into the soup- the Korean version of American dumplings) and some sort of yummy fish. Unfortunately, there were also these little crabs, a little smaller than tennis balls.

These crabs, after being simmered and boiled in the red broth for a while, fell apart, so that their main body was in two bits- the body and the head. The lid contains the brain and some innards, not much meat, and the body contains ... everything else, with the legs still attached.

One of my co-workers scooped out a crab lid and put it on my plate and told me that the brain is the best part, and I should try it. Well. I didn't want to be rude (I had already rejected the abalone, which I cannot even try because the look of it just repulsed me) so I tried the ol' crab brain. It was surprisingly good, kind of like a very firm fish. I said so, too, and we all laughed at the crab was probably insulted that I was comparing him to a fish, when crab is more expensive. (In my defense, saying it was fishy was a compliment.)

I never used to eat squid or octopus, and while I won't eat them raw (no raw fish yet, either), I will eat them cooked. Without complaining. It's kind of amazing.

I've been drinking a little beer lately (okay, I'm still not a fan, but I can down a (Korean) glass of beer now), which is highly unlike me. Granted, I'm not enjoying the beer, but I don't have to be the odd one out that won't drink beer anymore- I can tolerate it. Korean beer is, I think, lighter than the average American beer. Since the glasses are so small here (about a quarter of the size of my Shilla Hotel coffee), I'm okay with accepting one glass of beer when I'm out with people.

My mother thinks this is progress, and she's now glad that I decided to come to Korea, since I was apparently way too picky before, but I still have a long way to go. I've tried mushrooms a few times while I've been here, but I still don't like them. I tried 골뱅이 (golbangee), a type of sea snail- I didn't really mind it, but it isn't something I'll be seeking out. I think it would be good if it were battered and deep-fried (how American of me) rather than in the cold noodle dish that I tasted.

Many things, of course, have not changed. I still eat a lot of eggs (I oddly don't like having raw meat at home, it weirds me out), I don't eat much white rice (lately, it's this glutinous rice with beans that my aunt sent me, but more frequently, it's barley), I drink a lot of water, and I still love cheese dearly.

I'm glad I'm becoming a less picky eater, though. Hopefully I get even better in the time that I have left here!


william,  September 2, 2011 at 3:56 AM  

we will be eating a lot when you're here in daegu. be prepared.

jeanny September 2, 2011 at 6:15 AM  

KTX tickets purchased, hotel booked, ready to eat!