A Relaxed Balance


Amongst any hectic time schedule, there always needs to be time for a little relaxing. Some find that relaxation time in large chunks, called vacation. Some find it every day, like my family sitting on the porch with a couple of refreshing adult beverages discussing the day and getting ready, mentally, for a dinner of epic local proportions (see: CSA fresh meats, greens, roots, etc.). These days, I find it either in my long runs along the flooded Han river, or sitting down to a nice big, cold bowl, cup, or measuring cup of potbingsu.

Consider this: about a month ago, I continued my playing host to multiple friends and family members coming through Seoul to see me, their own family, and onto different places. My friend, Julia, had an extended layover between LA and Beijing in Seoul. I’d say she was both in the position prime to run and explore and see, and try to find that balance with relaxation. (See: vacation).

We wandered around my favorite neighborhood and played tourist and made efforts to see all of the most important places, but when it came down to it, the most important thing was not the place, but the people who surrounded her. So, accompanied by another mutual friend and Seoulite, we took to cafes to beat the summer’s heat. It was hot, not too humid, and the perfect time to find our way to relax in the middle of the day. Iced coffees: those were no-brainers. But food? Not hot soup or heavy rice or even quick street food (not because that doesn’t appeal to me, but because we had already had all of those by this point in time), why not ice cream? Not special enough. Why not potbingsu?

Yup, did it again, introduced one more new food to the increasing glossary of Korean cuisine. Potbingsu is made up of things you, dear readership, should know by this point. Ready? Ice. Yup. Fruit and Nuts. Okay. Sweetened Milk. Still there. Ricecake. Getting a little colder. Ice Cream. But I thought you said Ice Cream was too simple! Red Beans.

Remember from last summer where I had no money and yet I just had to have a red bean paste donut? I still do. Well take that ingredient and don’t pound it to a past, rather just let it be.

Doesn’t sound like the most appealing thing all deconstructed, but together, it’s divine. The cold shaved ice silts as a mountain of neutral, refreshing foundation. Fruit is then scattered around the outskirts of the peak, accompanied by chewy-semi-sweet-rice-cake. Can’t wrap your mind around what a rice cake is? Think about a piece of Wonder bread. Now think about smooshing it into a little ball. See how small it gets? Now do that to a spoonful of rice pudding. Voila, a thought experiment in making rice-cake.

Smothering the fresh fruit and Wonder-bread-smooshed-rice-pudding are the syrupy red beans. And what sits at the top of the whole hoopla? Ice cream of your choosing. Some go vanilla. I go Vanilla with green tea powder.

With three spoons attacking the snowy peak and fruity debris, the bingsu was done in no time, which left us plenty of time to sip iced coffees, catch up, and… relax. 

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