Fair warning: this post is going to be rambling and sporadic and jittered just like the fingers that type it. At present, I have about one month left in Korea. What does that mean? High speed, caffeine, little sleep, vitamin water (I have a strange addiction to it, for some reason these days), always saying yes to meal invitations, absent mindedness on over drive, and sweat. Lots of sweat. Not because I’m running from place to place but July brings the hottest and most humid of times to Korea, which is just unfortunate for my worn-out wardrobe and dwindling laundry detergent.
Like I said, rambling.
But in more uplifting and less pungent news, my last month here in Korea is jam packed, starting today with the dearest of friends coming to visit me from Paris via home. She is non-stop excited which makes me even more energetic and happy to show her around the city that I’ve claimed maybe one to many (or one to little, few, less?) times. She is as in love with food as I, but with a slight challenge – she’s a vegetarian. So it will be a hurdle to introduce her to the kimchi that I devour every day since it is made with shrimp paste to aid in fermentation. But it will be a synch to show her the bibimbap I’ve grown to love for an easy lunch. It will also be a joy to take her to the vegan buffet after a long hike up a mountain, and to show her around museums, temples, palaces, markets, street art, cafes, aquariums, and simply put: a whole different world.
From there we take slight nap then my southern soul sister comes to visit fresh out of rural China. She has been a brave ol’ chap for the past year living in a place where showers are heated by the sun, pig fat is a main course, and if your not too careful – you’ll forget that the “black tofu” is actually coagulated blood. She’s had an amazing time, and she’s ready to come to Seoul, from what I know. And like Brianna, Laura is overjoyed by the opportunity of seeing what Korea really is like. She tells me on a regular skype basis that her middle school girls are all obsessed with Korea. It makes sense to a large degree seeing as Korea is a major influence in Asian (and now European too) media and entertainment. Did you hear that Rain (비) was named the most influential person in Time magazine? Yeah, he’s Korean. That’s right, I somehow claim pride in that, now.
Once the visits stop, the vacation starts – I have a five-day vacation at the end of the month, which brings me up to my very last week of Korea-town. Gift shopping, packing, exploring for the last time, and non-stop relaxing. Ah – the time flies no matter what.
Coming at you once again from another angle: I have now, officially been writing this blog for more than a year. (What? When did that happen?!) And I thank each and every one of the people taking time to sit down and read my prose. I couldn’t be more flattered.
If you take a quick look, my first post was on July 1st and almost a year to the date ago today, I was writing about July 4th, just like I am today. The only difference? I was sitting in my home back in the woods of Upstate New York, and now I sit in a modern Korean coffee shop, sipping on an Americano, trying to finish my thoughts before a lunch date with a good friend. O! How the times move, change, evolve, develop!
Last 4th I spent with good friends and family, cooking burgers and banana pudding from scratch. This July 4th my group of friends and I harnessed the power of potluck yet again, came together, talked about which house we’d be in while attending Hogwarts (a tie between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw), drank chai tea and thought about things we missed. Open spaces, driving on open roads, eve’s dropping, talking with your neighbor, real Italian food, porches, bonfires, cookouts, lake houses all came to mind.
But what we found comfort in, amongst our nostalgia, was the company, the fact that we were sitting on an apartment floor, talking about the past and future, enjoying the present, and the food that filled the table. Broccoli pasta salad, Soba noodle salad, hummus, cucumbers, carrots, cheese and apples, crackers, corn bread, mashed potatoes, roasted spicy potatoes, blueberry-strawberry muffins, short cake, and cucumber-corn-zucchini-tomato salad all covered the available surface space on the table built for three. We noshed and chatted and ate some more until we were overly full and felt truly American. The next day, we’d meet again to shoot fireworks into the Han river that runs through the middle of Seoul (just as the Thames through London, and the Seine through Paris), and sing happy birthday to America one to many times. Also, the song that goes “You’re a grand ol’ flag, You’re a high flyin’ flag…”
To the potluck, I brought along the shortcake, cucumber salad, and roasted spicy potatoes. I also made two apricot crisps, but they never made it to the potluck… I wonder why! Maybe because it was sweet, tart, chalked full of cloves, cardamom, and tasted so good after my morning run…
One more thing, since I’ve given myself the right to ramble: Read Eating Animals by J. Safran Foer. It’s amazing, inspiring, and jam-packed with good, philosophical information about America’s meat industry. If you don’t want to know, read Dance Dance Dance by H. Murakami – outstanding.
For today, we draw to a close. Happy birthday, 20something meals. Happy birthday America – I’ll see you soon enough. I welcome future collaborations with an amazing friend and outstanding blogger! And I welcome Brianna to Korea! Let the exploration begin!
Roasted Spicy Potatoes
5-8 Potatoes (I used something similar to New Potatoes, but any will work)
Chop the potatoes into “steak fries,” and drizzle oil over top (I used olive). Coat thoroughly with the salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne (to taste, folks). Smash some garlic, and throw it (and the potatoes) onto a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes on each side. Longer, if you like them crispier. Serve with something to drink, but of course.