Don’t be Afraid of the Foreigner

20 Sep

Koreans are generally humble people, and almost to a fault in regard to their English speaking abilities. Their lack of confidence in their linguistic aptitude tends to manifest as an uber-shyness around foreigners, which presents quite the challenge  both as an English teacher and wandering nomad currently situated in Korea.

And so this video caught my eye as it came through my facebook feed earlier today. Seemly as part of its continuing efforts to become a global, foreigner-friendly nation, the following commercial is being broadcasted in attempts to diminish language barriers. Said commercial can be viewed below.  A bit of foreshadowing: hilarity ensues.

To dispel any confusion, essentially the concept is that multiple foreigners attempt to speak to the Koreans in their mother tongue, while the locals go to ridiculous lengths to avoid confrontation in fear of being misunderstood or making a blunder. And so the message is to, as the little girl does at the end of the video, say annyeonghaseyo (hello in Korean), instead of being fearful of speaking to foreigners.

Could you even imagine an equivalent campaign happening in North America? Oh Korea!

xoxo

Recipe for Disaster: Ramen 라면 Done Right

31 Aug 133676

You are likely questioning my selection for this installment of Recipe for Disaster. “Why Shauna, any cretin can make a package of Mr.Noodle/Top Ramen/Cup Noodle!” you say? But neigh, this is not the ordinary run-of-the-mill, spicy, carbfest that you are familiar with. This is ramen done the Korean way.

When first coming to Korea, I was mildly confused by the big hullabaloo surrounding ramen. A huge isle at every grocery store is dedicated to it, it’s on the menu at restaurants, the noodles are sold as an instant snack (comparable to potato), and the students turn into ravenous beasts at the sight of it. And yes, there is an app for that (not for ravenous children, but for ramen – see here). The stuff was everywhere, and it seemed to be a rather unfounded obsession. I mean, yes, the ramen that I was used to was a satisfying, carb-y snack, but I would have hardly qualified it as a meal or even a mainstay in my snack roster.(yes, there is a roster)

And that’s because I was cooking it wrong.

When ramen is served at a local restaurant, it is prepared with an array of extra ingredients – the most common being onions, garlic, carrots, scallions, pressed fish cake known as odeng 오뎅, squid, egg and my favourite, cheese! Thats right, cheese. And not just any cheese, but a disgusting slice of plastic processed cheese. But the results are delicious.

Before we get started I must warn anyone attempting to follow this recipe will not get good results using some 15 cent garbage from Walmart. Please use an authentic Asian product. The most popular ramen in Korea is Shin Ramen seen below

….but I’m not a huge fan so I used this brand.

Moving on (err please excuse the gaudy eighties colour blocking…..not quite sure what’s going on there)

WHAT YOU NEED

1 package of quality instant ramen
1 slice of processed cheese
1 egg
1 minced clove of garlic
1/2 a medium carrot, sliced in quarters
1/4 cooking onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium spring onion, coarsely chopped
Optional: A pinch of ground red pepper for increased spiciness

WHAT TO DO

  1. Bring 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, add carrots, onions and garlic. Cover and leave on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
  3. At about the halfway point, empty the contents of the package of soup base into the pot. If you want to make it spicier, also add a pinch of ground red pepper. Save the noodles and dried vegetables for later. Put lid back on.
  4. Once vegetables are tender, turn up the heat to high. Break the noodle brick in half and add to the pot.  Cook noodles for about 2.5 to 3.5 minutes without a lid.
  5. About 1.5 min after the noodles go in, add the egg.
  6. Once egg whites appear cooked, swirl the yolk in with the noodles. Try not to break up the egg whites in the process. I did a terrible job of this, but I have faith that more skilled cooks will have to problem here.
  7. When there is only 30 seconds left, add dehydrated vegetables and spring onion.
  8. When time is up, turn off heat and immediately place your slice of cheese on top of the concoction. Don’t mix it in, the cheese will take care of itself (like magic?).  Now it’s ready to serve.
The finished product. So good. Sooooo good. It’s like the noodle equivalent of a unicorn or something. I apologize, that simile was just about as ridiculous as my eighties-inspired graphic design work above.
Note the fancy garnishing job. I was quite proud of myself(not quite sure that Italian parsley makes the best garnish for Korean ramen).
I think ramen has officially made the roster.
xoxo

Hello, Humans!

31 Aug

Just a few glamour shots of everyone’s favourite frenemy (too presumptuous ?).

What the???

Caught red handed! (pawed?)

Bath time. He kinda really hates it. So here he is swimming, swimming, swiiiiimming towards freedom! Or so he thinks.

Drying off.

wassssssssssuuuuuuuup!

Smolder

Blue Steel

It’s hilarious to see how much his face transforms when he’s emoting. For example, grumpy after a long and tiring photo shoot, his cute mug becomes the very definition of ‘stink face’.

 Sans towel….something to smile about.

So judging by the plethora of pics and the odd ball comments, I’ve clearly gone off the deep end?  Whatevs, he’s too cute and I can’t help myself. Not so cute is a bizarre phenomenon in hedgehog behaviour known as self anointing. When the hedgehog comes across a striking new smell, it’s delicate little body breaks into a furor of contortions as it coats itself in an abundance of rabid foam, leading the unsuspecting new hedgehog owner to believe that their pog is suffering from some neurological malfunction. However, this is commonplace for a hedgehog, and it is thought to be a form of protection from predators(just one of many theories; its true cause is still a mystery).

Anyways, here are some photos of self anointing in all it’s glory.

I was hesitant to post this one as I don’t intend to give people nightmares……..but really, what the funk!

A repeat of Dochi smiling to relieve the trauma.

That second to last one will honestly be haunting my dreams. Le wah.

xoxo

PS: ahahahahahhahaha my friend just sent me a link to this video. Apparently this hedgie likes to exfoliate?? Sooo good please watch!

Don’t Call it a Comeback

30 Aug

So it’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to update for some time but alas I’ve been caught in a whirlwind of distractions- hot summer days, breezy summer nights, a move, a trip to Jeju Island, weekenders, tales of dystopian societies and three seasons of Breaking Bad(from which I’ve only now been able to break free from the death grip of addiction).   I’ve also been avoiding editing my pictures from Jeju, which at a tally of 500+ photos, is a frightfully daunting task.

I moved apartments at the beginning of August because the lease on the old place ran out (oh for shame! thiscommentdripswithsarcasm)  and so, while I am in the process of  conquering the Jeju monster, I will pay homage to sad, dank,  mold grow-op that was my former abode.

The old abode. Note the welcoming jail cell bars covering the windows. You also may note that some cretin decided to conveniently park their bicycle in the garbage pile just outside of the building. That cretin just so happens to be me. But don’t look to me for an explanation as to why because your guess is as good as mine.

An exciting look at my alleyway street.

Although the old place was subpar at best, it had a picturesque pond located just up the street from it.

Lining the pond is a stone path sprinkled with gazebos and benches for families to sit.

Apparently I’ve developed a penchant for ducks.

AND THERES A KITTY!

A sample from my bicycle’s glamor shoot??

Beautiful pond. Slightly less than mediocre building-how terrible could it really have been?

Really really, the mold situation was outta control. Not only did it likely reek havoc on my respiratory system, it destroyed  many of my possessions including my favourite leather boots, my new and only blazer, my guitar case and my solid plastic kitchen timer (not that this is a great tragedy but how on earth does dry, solid plastic collect mold?). Keep in mind that I had not previously bathed these things in water to let them air dry in my room with no windows-a testament  to how terrible the ventilation was in the room. Needless to say I m more than relieved to bid good riddance to that mold cave.

More posts to come?

xoxo

Koreans – They got the Power

26 Jul

On July 5th, CNN reported that authorities had evacuated 3,000 workers from a 39-story office building following reports that the structure had shook for about ten minutes. You can read about it here. What was strange about the incident, is that no traces of an earthquake were recorded during the period of the reported tremors. Nonetheless, tenants fled the building; one quoted stating that the building felt as if it was shaking up and down.

Tenants may have heard this catchy tune blaring through their walls just prior to the traumatic event:

Thats because 17-middle aged foggies were practicing their regular Tae Bo routine to this song. Tae Bo is the spawn of Tae Kwon Do and boxing, and has been made popular in the western world by fitness master Billy Blanks:

If you were ever striving for bodacious man cleavage like his, now you know what it takes(can cleavage even be bodacious?)

Anyways, apparently Snap (the musical maestros responsible for the tune above)  really convinced those Koreans that “they got the power”, as CNN is now reporting that their fitness routine is what caused the ‘earthquake’,

Prime Group, owner of the 39-story TechnoMart commercial-residential high-rise in Seoul, said 17 middle-aged people were working out to the pop song “The Power” by Snap on July 5 when their movements set the upper floors of the tower shaking for 10 minutes, according to a report from the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Scientists recreated the event in the 12th floor gym, according to a report in the Korea Times.

“We observed the vibrometer while performing the same kind of aerobic exercise that was performed at the time of the shaking which occurred on July 5. We noticed that the shaking was felt in the upper floors while the exercise was being performed while no other place showed signs of tremor,” Chung Lan, a professor of architectural engineering at Dankook University, told the Korea Times.

“It just happens to be that the vibration cycle caused by Tae Bo collided with the vertical vibration cycle unique to the building,” Chung told the Korea Times. The action amplified the building’s vibration and caused the shaking, he said.

Impressive. My workouts barely manage to move my lump of a body, never mind  a whole building. I wonder if Koreans don the sporty du rag during Tae Bo like they do during my tennis lessons?

xoxo

PS As I was finishing this post, a similarly fantastic/horrid song came on my iTunes.

Recipe for Disaster: Hobakjeon 호박전

24 Jul hobakjeon prep feature

My foray into the craft of cooking continued this week with a fried squash dish named Hobakjeon 호박전; a decision made after a student described it as “Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious!”(with that many o’s how could you go wrong?). Spoiler: this venture was not quite as successful as the last.

The type of squash used in this dish is called young squash or green pumpkin and basically looks like zucchini (you could probably use a zucchini in lieu of squash) . Here’s a picture of the one I used:

Yes it’s on the floor. It’s also in a wrapper. I also have no counter. Stop judging.

Along with young squash this is what you’ll need:

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 young squash, long shape
50 g lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1 minced clove of garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sesame salt
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp oil for frying (The cook’s discretion)

Calm before the (fire) storm (Step 4)

WHAT TO DO

  1. Slice the squash into disks that are about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices into a bowl and sprinkle them with your 1/2 Tbsp of salt. Let them stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the meanwhile, mix the beef with the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and salt, and garlic. (Swedish massage technique not necessary)
  3. Once ten minutes have passed drain the slices of any water they may have collected and dry them with paper towel.
  4. Cover each disk with a thin layer of the beef mixture (as seen in the picture above).
  5. Heat oiled pan. Dip disk in flour and then egg. Fry on medium heat for about 3 minutes a side. (Keeping the flour and egg close to the pan makes this step much easier)
  6. To up the deliciousness of the dish, serve with a super easy dipping sauce. One part soy sauce, one part vinegar.
The first batch
Something you wouldn’t feed your worst enemy
Clear fail. I was quite discouraged after the first batch(I believe the folly here lay in the haphazard execution of step 4). But I hate wasting food and so was determined to get it right. When done my apartment could easily have been mistaken for an opium den with all the smoke, but at least I managed to realize some success…..ish.
My successful batch
Something a stray animal may consider for dinner
The book’s rather more appetizing batch
A clear win. :(
Well at least they tasted fantastic…..ish(No really! Though they looked like the contents of a neighbour’s compost they were quite good).
xoxo

The Shit Needle 똥침

21 Jul snfeatured

A stark contrast between Wesetern and Korean culture is the relationship between children and adults outside of the family. In Western culture children are taught with vigor not to talk with strangers, where in Korea, adults assume the role of  the child’s aunt or uncle. If I am in a restaurant with my boss, the woman serving us food  will hold my boss’s baby while she is finishing her meal whilst tending to the other child running around exploring the restaurant. As a result (I’m assuming it is anyways), children in the classroom are far more hands on, whether it be a barrage of hugs or the rubbing of little faces on my arm, ressembling the blissful state cats enter when rubbing their faces on pretty much everything(including stinky socks….but that’s a story for another time).

The previous mentioned actions are actually quite endearing, even for a stunted robot such as myself.  Not so endearing, however, is a bizarre game aptly referred to as the shit needle, or dong chim 똥침. The game goes as follows: a sweet innocent kindergardener clasps their delicate little hands together into the shape of a gun, and then uses all the mighty strength that their little arms will give them to dart their fingers at your bum hole(those arms are much stronger then they look btw). This is for realz. They’ve even made statues to prove it.

 

Ooooo he got him real good….

The first time this happened I freaked out(and rightfully so). I figured it was an isolated incident, but alas, ’twas was only the peak of a slippery slope. I’ve managed to put a kibosh on this gong show as the devilish look that taints their angel faces moments prior to an attack give them away, but am still flabbergasted by the seeming acceptance of it by Korean society. By the looks of if, the whole family can join in on the fun…..

It’s the shit needle family fun train! Choo-choooo (poo-poooo rather)

The game is so hip ‘n’ happening that it’s inspired a cartoon character whose its namesake. Dongchimee is an animated counterpart of the brand Dalki (check it out here). He’s an artist who’s sole tool is dung. He sets out to fully understand the capabilities of his organic material; sometimes it’s wet and sometimes it’s dry. Surprisingly, he spends most of his time at home. Oh and ladies, he’s a Virgo.

What a dream boat! There’s alota something under his nose(I’m assuming it’s a glob of snot)…I wonder if he’ll consider the use of other bodily materials in his work since they seem to be in ample supply…..

And it doesn’t end there. From Dongchimee has spawned Dung Bread, or DDong BBang 똥빵.  I actually came across this appetizing treat when in Seoul but haven’t actually tried it. I do know that it’s essentially a pastry with a waffle-like shell thats cradling a red bean filling. Here is what it looks like (from what I’ve found via google search)

And this is apparently what it comes in. Note the bum defecating red bean;as if the whole ordeal wasn’t graphic enough.

If you aren’t in the position to have a shit needle experience of your own, not to worry, as that’s what the internet is for (go here and you won’t be disappointed).

xoxo

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