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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Korean eating habits

Now that I've been "in country" for almost two weeks now, let me break down for you some of the typical Korean eating habits:

- a friend who has been here before warned the Americans that the Koreans would not drink anything with their lunch - and that's true. They eat their entire meal without having anything to drink (almost like my friend ZWalk did back in high school). Then, after the meal, they go to these little water machines and "drink" a cup of water. At first, I thought it was so strange that they had only this little, tiny drink after lunch (at least ZWalk was saving himself a delicious Sprite for after lunch). But now I've learned (thanks to my Korean friend S.) that they are not drinking the water after lunch - nope, they are washing their mouth out. To get rid of the pepper flakes. And she wasn't kidding - I hadn't noticed before, but everyone standing around the water machine with their "drink" is swishing the water around in their mouth, washing out the gunk. Weird.

- No matter what Koreans eat, they regard the rice as the "meal." Case in point: you can gorge yourself on Korean bar-b-q (bulgogi, for example) for an hour while eating pickled vegetables, soups, and kimchi by the boatloads, but that's not the meal. No, the "meal" is the little bowl of rice that you get after eating all your meat and sides. To review: Rice = meal. Copious quantities of meat, pickled vegetables, soups, and everything else = not your meal. To say this is different from the American perspective of "Meat above all else" would be an understatement.

- Korean men eat really fast. Almost as fast as I eat! I wondered why, but now it all makes sense: every Korean man must do military service. And in the military, you only get 1-2 minutes to eat, so you learn to eat fast or you starve. Thus, wherever you go, you see these ex-Army guys shoveling their food in like it might disappear at any second. But since I've never been in the Army, I really have no excuse for eating fast. I'm just a pig.

- Koreans love ice cream - I just ate some green tea, blueberry, and corn ice cream for dessert. Yes, corn ice cream (not bad!). Given my penchant for the frozen stuff, I may fit in yet...

- Finally, props to my man James for finally finding something to eat that wasn't named Popeye's. Maybe now he won't have to rely on his mad game with the Korean ladies to find something to eat.

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