Hahl-muh-nee finally arrived this afternoon, and will be with us for two weeks, shuffling back and forth between LA and Orange County. It’s quite exciting really, because I’ve seen her only a few times in my life, and having an entire two weeks, I’ll get to know her (even though there is very definitely a language barrier). And of course, I know that in the span of just these two weeks, I’ll be getting more Korean food than I do in probably six months.
koreans basically eat bahp (rice) at every meal, including breakfast. in the morning, it might be jook (a rice porridge) or heen bahp (steamed white rice) and a small bowl of soup. my cousin, studying here through the summer, “loves the states.” here, she gets to eat cold cereal, toast, and a bagel with cream cheese is something special.
at lunch, it’s also rice with the addition of a few more bahnchan and perhaps some protein for energy through the day. today, my first lunch with hahl-muh-nee, was simple. we have rice, she with her heart-healthy jah-ggo-bahp (rice steamed with beans and whole grains), and everyone else with heen bahp. gim (toasted nori) is a constant, wrapped around a bite of rice with a little smear of spicy goh-choo-jahng (spicy red pepper paste). we fry a few salmon filets and drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil. there are the regular kimchees, from which i have to restrain myself, lest i return to work and scare off all my co-workers with killer kimchee breath. nothing, not gum, not altoids, not even brushing my teeth, can cover the garlic and spices.
and thus begins a two week intensive seminar in korean food, that begins my seoul searching.