Monday, February 06, 2012


I just realized that I probably need to update my labels (2011 Korea is really 2011 - ? Korea, after all- I'm not discounting the fact that I could possibly stay in Korea beyond this year).

Anyways, I'm going to try to go back to posting the way I used to, with photos. I like having pictures on my blog, even if it's just for myself- I want to remember what I did, who I met, and what I ate. There are lots of weird and interesting things that I've been eating, since I've become friendlier with some people that now feel comfortable taking me to the dive-y places that have good food, even if their methods are a little questionable. It's the food equivalent of dive bars. Yum.

So, before I went home in December, I moved out of the old place and into a new place. I didn't take a video of the new place (which is warmer, without those single-paned enormous windows that the old place had) but I snapped one photo:

Lame? You bet. It's teeny-tiny, this new place. I need to take a new picture soon, because I recently got a bed (with a tufted white faux-leather bed frame), a table (the top of which is bright orange) and two chairs (knock-off post-modern-ish). The windows also have roll-screens (what are they called in English? In Korean they're called roll-screens) now, which I actually acquired the day I landed. My cousin had to put them up for me- he suffered a lot that day, what with the shopping, the schlepping, the putting up with a cranky, jet-lagged cousin, and all that.

Anyway, it's much less sterile now, my little abode, so I'll try to take "after" pictures soon.

I've been going out a lot lately (A LOT) because for some reason, people keep wanting to go out during random weekdays. I went out every day last week and again yesterday, on a Monday. What is that about? I managed to rest up all weekend and catch up on sleep a bit, but man- I'm not in my early twenties anymore (kill me, I'm 31 in Korean age) and I don't know if I have the endurance to continue with this type of social schedule.
The above is a photo of 아구찜(ah-goo-jjim: agu is monkfish, jjim means 'to steam'), which is a spicy dish that consists mainly of bean sprouts and monkfish. I'd never had monkfish before. It's an interesting fish- lots of hard, sharp bones, rather thick skin, and surprisingly soft flesh. The consistency of the meat reminds me a bit of lobster- the way it comes apart is more like lobster than like fish. I liked the dish as a whole, because it's spicy and I love bean sprouts, but I don't think I would enjoy eating just the monkfish without it being a part of a hot, spicy dish.
That stuff up there is raw liver (ew) and some sort of innards (ew) of cow, I think. I thought we were going to grill the liver and I was all for it, because I like cooked liver (I like it overcooked and dried out, actually), but then I was told that we were supposed to eat the stuff raw. EW. Why do Koreans eat the weirdest things?? We had a company dinner for a film that premiered last month, and my co-workers tried their hardest to get me to eat raw, squirming squid. Why would I eat something that is still moving?? That sticks to everything it comes into contact with, desperately trying to escape?? EW. Needless to say, I didn't have the raw liver or the mysteriously spiky innards. Shudder.
After the raw liver and innards, which I guess are a sort of appetizer, we were brought intestines (I think these are small intestines) and a variety of offal. It sounds kind of gross, to be eating cows' intestines (they also sell pigs' intestines in Korea, but this particular restaurant was a 소곱창 (cow intestine) place), but it's actually really delicious. I love it- I'm really sensitive to the textures of food, and intestines have everything that I like- the crispness of the outermost layer that comes into contact with the grill, the chewiness of the outer walls of the intestines, and then there's this kind of mushy white stuff that's inside the intestines. Okay, that sounds super disgusting. But it's really good, I promise!

I've had pig intestine and cow intestine, and while Koreans seem very opinionated on which type they like better, I don't notice a huge difference. The biggest difference is size (pigs being smaller), and marination. Cow intestine tends not to be marinated, whereas pig intestines are (spicy, salt, barbecue, etc.), and I prefer the plain variety, as I like to be able to taste the actual animal, rather than just the marinade.

Also, while the photo above is small intestine, they do sell large intestine in the same manner. These types of restaurants tend to be very, very specific- this restaurant is just a cow small intestine place. There is another restaurant close by that is a pig small intestine place. There are restaurants that sell only cow large intestine. I find that this sort of very narrow specializing is quite common in Korean restaurants, whereas it's not nearly so easy to find in the States.

I like large intestine, too- I'll have to remember to take a photo the next time I have it.

Last night, we had bossam (보쌈), steamed pork, with oysters (I didn't have any) and soju. It's a wonder that I'm not gaining weight here- actually, it's a wonder that I'm losing weight here- what with all the fatty food and all the drinking. It's like the French Paradox, only it's a Korean Conundrum.

I'm glad that I'm making friends and all, but I do wish my newfound friends liked to do other things besides drink. I could really go watch a movie right about now...