Finding a post office around here was a little bit difficult. Fortunately, not only did we find a post office, we found the post office. As in, the central headquarters of the post office. Which was huge. And, it just so happened that we found it in the middle of a protest. So, I crossed the police lines to try to find out what was going on (and where I could buy a stamp) I figured it wasn’t too dangerous because they were all eating soup. I was actually just trying to find out how I could obtain a red vest so that I could get in the soup line too. But, then, I figured I probably couldn’t pass for a protester. So, no soup for me.
I’ve basically covered the scale on Korean dining. I’ve done street food, home-cooked, traditional, and fine dining. As you can probably tell, fine dining is not my usual fare. I guess if I had to describe my dining style, “hole in the wall” would probably be the best phrase. Give me a grungy taco shop where I have to order in Spanglish and I’ll be a happy camper. (Have I mentioned that I haven’t had Mexican food for 7 days now? This may be a personal record for me.) However, fine dining experiences are fine.(I can never pass up an opportunity for a pun!)
Let me go ahead and explain what a fine dining experience entails in Korea. They sit you down at a table that is full (as in 20 or more dishes) of food that ranges from recognizable to “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.” You begin eating, mostly picking up bites of things with your chopsticks from all the different dishes. Then, they begin coming in with more dishes, replacing the ones on your table with new things and continue this parade of food for an hour or so.
They say there’s a first time for everything, so I’ll detail a few of my firsts.
Mugwort pancakes: I thought the green ones were seaweed, but I was wrong. I actually really liked these (plus mugwort has great health benefits) and Jake graciously gave me his portion.
Lotus root: I saw the gray disks presented and they sat on the table for the entire meal untouched. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked what they were (knowing that if I asked, I was going to be obligated to try them.) I was told they were lotus root, and so I picked one up, prepared for it to be squishy. But, again, I was wrong. They were crunchy and slightly nutty tasting. Also really good! I was told that lotus root has blood cleansing properties that make it a great food for health.
Jellyfish: Slimy. That’s the only word for this. It tastes exactly like what you would expect. Chewy and slimy. Appetizing, right? You kinda just chew and swallow and move on. Did I mention that refusing something is basically not an option?
One of the meals we attended had 35 dishes, so as you can imagine, there was much much more. However, I think I hit the high points with these three.
Oh, and we finally did find our shoes at Dunkin Donuts, what luck!