Monday, July 25, 2011

{Guest Blogger} Live from Korea! Pt. 1


            Hi everyone!  I have now been in Korea for a little over a month.  If time can keep going this fast, I will be home in no time!  Korea has been pretty interesting.  Once I got settled and actually stepped out of the three- mile boundary of Camp Mujuk, I started learning more and more about the Korean culture.  Everyone is always talking about the Korean bbq. I finally had some time off so I went out to see what all the fuss was about.  The two Korean security guards whom invited me out are named Jo-Mik and Mr. Kim.  They took me the best bbq around.  I cannot pronounce the name of the restaurant, but being there was quite an experience.  They sit you down (on the ground), but on a nice comfy blanket type thing around a table.  In the middle of the table is a giant grill (just like you would see at a hibachi restaurant).  They start you off with a bowl of soup.  It is normal for you to share one bowl with a friend.  There were only three of us, so I decided to get my own!  You then chose whether you want your beef or pork marinated or just salted.  We got a little of both so I could try them out.  They bring you a tray of raw meet and you grill it yourself.  The meat also came with white rice and lots and lots of lettuce and condiments such as onions, garlic, peppers, cucumbers, etc.  I was confused at first because there was no bread, rolls, or anything to put the meat and condiments on.  My friends laughed at me and showed me what to do.  Apparently, when you eat Korean bbq you don’t need bread.  The lettuce is your bread.  You cook the meet, grab a piece of lettuce, throw some onions or whatever on top, then roll the lettuce into a little burrito type thing and shove it all in your mouth.  My opinion- not bad at all!  I don’t like eating bread anyway, too many carbs : )  The bbq was yummy.  I wouldn’t say it was everything it was talked up to be, but I would definitely go again.  

Also during my first cultural experience I learned a couple things as well… (1) You do not pour your own drink.  You offer to pour someone else’s and they pour yours in return.  
(2) The youngest person at the table cooks the food.  It is not a rule, but more of a courtesy thing.  I, however, got away with not cooking because they were showing me the ropes.  
(3) You do NOT use your left hand to give or receive anything.  It is a sign of disrespect.  You simply use your right hand and put your left hand by your right elbow.  If you need two hands then you can use both, but if not, use your right hand only.   
(4) You must know how to use chopsticks.  I never could use these things, but never actually had to either.  Being in Korea it’s a necessity, so I have been practicing! 

Since my base is very tiny, there is no commissary to buy groceries.  Your choices are to either drive an hour and a half to the nearest American Army base or go to E-mart.  E-mart is kind of like a super Wal-mart.  Supposedly there are E-mart’s in the United States, but I have never seen one.  Have you?  I went about a week ago to grab some groceries.  For some reason, I forgot I was in Korea because once I got there I was shocked to see EVERYTHING in Korean.  Side note:  I learned the language is not “Korean” it is called Hangul.  So yes, everything was in Hangul.  I should have expected that!  It wasn’t too hard to find the things I needed, however, I like knowing the nutrition facts of what I am eating.  Obviously I could not read the labels, but I could make out how many calories or “k-cals” here so I was all right.   Luckily, I went equipped with my Korean speaking Lance Corporal.  He saved me from buying goat's milk and eggs that were not from a chicken.  E-mart was a success, but I think I’ll stick to the commissary as much as I can. 

Pt. 2 later today!

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