Cultural Musings · Food · Korea · Teaching

A lion, a tiger, a pen, oh my!

I played a game with my students today that I found on Dave’s ESL Cafe.  The website has a wealth of information, and among other things, I like the extensive list of ESL games.  I brought in 10 brown paper lunch bags each filled with a simple item (golf ball, toothpaste, pen, coin, candy, battery, button, band aid, stamp)  The kids had to guess what was in the bags using only English clues.  For the lower level students, I gave the clues to the kids and the higher kids got to give the clues to their peers.  Overheard during the game from my 2:30 class:

Me: “You use it to write.”

Daniel: “Potato” which sounded more like Poe-Tay-Toe

Me (I say while holding back laughter): “No, something you write with.” (As I wave my hand in an exaggerated writing motion)

Harry: “Gum”

Me: “No, for WRITE-ING”

Patrick: “Lion” (which sounded more like Lie-On)

I gave up shortly thereafter and pulled the blue Bic from the bag to a classroom full of “ohhhh, pen”.  It was an amusing 40 minutes.

This is Kimbap, on close inspection it quite resembles sushi and that is exactly what it would be called if Koreans liked the Japanese just a little bit more.  Actually, it’s not sushi because it doesn’t have rawfish in it.  Kimbap is a very popular snack in Korea, you can get it on any street corner and it’s oh so yummy.  There are many types of Kimbap but most kinds have ham, egg, white daikon radish, carrots and mushrooms.  Mary Eats has a great blog entry on ordering Kimbap which can be a difficult process because the menu is highly encrypted to those of us who can’t read Hangul.  Kimbap chefs even roll them in the window, like Sushi chefs although they don’t don fancy hats and aprons like Japanese sushi chefs.  This dinner of two kimbap logs (for lack of a better word) was 2,000 Won, roughly $2.00.  Great deal!

I have mentioned before that Koreans love bread and pastries and you find Paris-like bakeries all over the place.  My boss brought us these pastries for a snack today.  Not being a fan of creamy fillings I asked the girls at work, “what kind of cream is it?”

“Just cream,” Ally replied.

“Is it lemon, it looks lemony,” trying to get some more information on the mysterious cream.

“No lemon, just sweet cream.”

I brought it home, hoping to inspect it further.  I put it on the counter, poked and prodded it, took its picture, even opened it and smelled it.  You would have thought I was doing an experiement.  I decided to try it and sure enough, no taste, just cream.  It ended up in the garbage.  I know they call it Paris Baguette but there is no comparison.

While writing this post, I began to wonder, do other people write blogs about American culture and how silly we seem to them?  Is some Korean student, studying at UCLA and majoring in mathematics or engineering, sitting in his dorm room writing a blog titled “Can you believe they eat this stuff?”  Is he talking about how we’re uncivilized because we don’t have heated floors?  Maybe he’s mentioning that we are disgusting people because we let strangers walk into our houses with their shoes on.  Or maybe he’s saying that we’re silly because we still use pennies.  Hmm, makes you wonder!

This weekend is Seollal or Lunar New Year and Joe and I are heading to Seoul for a long weekend and a much awaited trip.  We haven’t been to Seoul unless you count the hour we spent at Incheon Airport when we arrived.  We are staying at the Dragon Hill Lodge, a hotel on Yongsan Army Base which is in Seoul and we plan on doing a lot of shopping and sightseeing.  There is a ton to do in Seoul and I think people who live here don’t even see it all but this weekend will be mostly devoted to shopping.  I have mostly held off from going crazy at the shops since we arrived in hopes we would get to Seoul for a massive shopping trip so this is my Valentine’s present shopping weekend.I even mentioned to Joe the other day that I have not bought a single purse since we got here, a huge feat for me since I bought 7 in the course of our 3 week honeymoon.  Maybe we’ll stroll around Insa-donga great neighborhood full of antiques, little cafes, restaurants and shops.  It is considered the Soho of Seoul.  I also want to explore Namdaemun Market, a night time open-air market in Seoul.  Wholesalers booths are open from midnight to 6AM.  And Dongdaemun, another open-air market and the largest shopping district in Korea with 26 malls, 30,000 specialty shops and 50,000 retailers.  I will be in heaven.  We are taking our chances as this is a holiday weekend and a lot of the vendors will not be open but hey, I’ll take what I can get.  If the open-air markets are slow, we can always head over to the Coex Mall, with its 85,000 square meters of underground shopping, and entertainment.  We’ll save the cultural stuff for another time.

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2 thoughts on “A lion, a tiger, a pen, oh my!

  1. Melana Moonspaghetti??? Hmmm…must be an inside joke…Now, I have had many, many nicknames for my daughter, but never Melana Moonspaghetti…I really MISS YOU SO BAD TOO!!!!! Love, Mom

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