Monday, July 09, 2012

A confession about coffee...

Today I learned: I don't know what I really like or dislike.  For twenty-nine years, I've maintained that I don't like coffee.  Well, okay: to be fair, for a number of those years I didn't really have a choice in the matter.  Still, it's fair to say that I've been pretty consistent about my dislike of coffee.  Then, just this last week, I went out for coffee with my co-workers.  For those of you living and working in Korea, you know things are a little different here.  If someone above you in your hierarchy offers you food or a drink, it's extremely rude to say no.  So, there I was, a table of my "betters" all staring me down as I was asked which coffee I would like.  Needless to say, I was compelled to drink.  It was a fairly high-end coffee place, so I decided to try something interesting.  They featured coffee from a number of different countries, and I thought I'd give the Guatemalan coffee a try.  After the first bitter sip, I pasted a fake smile on my face and pronounced it good, much to the delight of my fellow teachers.  However, as the aftertaste made itself known, I began to come to a startling realization: it didn't taste bad.  Not bad at all!  Tentatively, I took another sip.  Not holding my breath this time, I allowed myself to fully experience the taste and aroma of the coffee.  By the end of the cup, I was fully appreciating the taste of this heretofore reviled beverage.

The lesson here is, if you didn't like something when you were younger, don't wait fifteen years to try it again.  You may be surprised.  For my coffee lover friends, what is your favourite coffee?  What should I try next?  I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me, a world I know next to nothing about!

Oh, and by the way, Guatemalan coffee with 팥빙수 is ridiculously amazing.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Things I'll Miss About Korea: School Lunch

It concerns me how many of my posts are/will be about food.

Lunchtime in Korean middle school.  For some of my fellow ex-pats, this topic is a source of contention.  To hear many of my friends speak of the lunches at their schools, you would think that they are the worst thing in the world.  Still others rave about the food they are served.  You can definitely count me in the latter of those two groups.  I am usually very impressed by the meals served by the cafeteria at Sinsang Middle School.  It sounds like I certainly got lucky when it comes to the food we're served!  Sure, there is the occasional dud, but for the most part the food is satisfying and delicious.

Lunch is served buffet-style, and teachers line up to fill their trays from a selection of foods.  The main feature of the meal is rice, followed usually by some sort of meat dish, a vegetable dish, and kimchi (of course!).  A soup normally rounds out the meal.

The serving area.  The red container holds the rice.

Today's lunch: a little different from the norm.  Instead of the regular soup, we
had a noodle dish.  Also included were some kind of pizza pocket-things.
Lunch time also affords opportunities for socializing with co-workers.
Unfortunately, sometimes the English content of the discussion is limited!
As I said, the food is usually good quality and delicious.  However, bibimbap day is something altogether special!  Nothing compares to entering the lunch room and discovering that this king of Korean dishes is the day's featured menu.  Bibimbap day causes me to do my happy dance (even if it's just in my head so as not to confuse and frighten the Korean teachers)!

Bibimbap.  Om nom nom.
Things I will really miss about Korea: bibimbap day.