My favorite part about going home for break is, without a shadow of a doubt, the food. Although I have been going back to Korea for many years, I manage to eat something new every single time. Here is some cultural insight into the Korean food I ate over winter break.
The first lunch I had after my flight to Korea was curry at a restaurant called A-Bi-Go. I had the option of choosing the level of spiciness of the curry from levels 1 to 5. Because I am generally very bad with spicy food, I chose level 3 and added a few extra sides on top, including an egg, a sausage, and a few corroques. The taste was phenomenal: a perfect mix of sweet and salty.
One of the most advanced aspects of Korean food culture is the takeout delivery system. It is well known that Koreans have a lack of patience, so food delivery in Korea offers a wide range of options that will get your food to you in a short amount of time. Among the food delivery options, fried chicken is arguably the most popular menu item to satiate a late night craving. So one night, my brother and I ordered chicken from a nearby grill. We ordered a classic mix of fried and spicy chicken. A box of cut radish and a can of coke came on the side, both balancing out the oiliness of the chicken– a perfect match.
Another menu item my brother and I ordered on a midnight whim was tteok-bok-yi. Tteok-bok-yi, also known as spicy ricecake, is a classic for many Koreans, well-loved across all ages. Tteok-bok-yi came with a side of fried dumplings, seaweed covered noodles, rice balls, and calamari.
When I went to visit my hometown, Daegu, I ate brunch at a famous cafe. My friend and I ordered a plate of soft pancakes, a strawberry latte, and a Viennese coffee. With the pancakes, there was a serving of vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. The ice cream and the pancakes went along with each other perfectly, and it almost felt as if the pancakes were melting inside my mouth. Sipping on the Viennese coffee, the sweetness was perfectly balanced out by the lingering sense of bitterness.
Korean barbeque is one of my favorite types of food to eat when I go out with family and friends. Grilled pork belly, in particular, is a popular Korean traditional dish. I ate it on top of kimchi, steamed eggs, and cold noodles. Overall, it is an amazing dish!
This tofu stew is a spicy-seasoned soup with assorted vegetables, served on a hot plate. Soups are a well-loved dish in Korean culture, and spicy tofu stew is one of the most loved soups. People usually mix rice into the soup so that they feel full after having a bowl.
Korea has a very advanced cafe culture. On every street, it is safe to assume that there will be at least two cafes where people are hanging out. In these cafes, people eat meals and have afternoon tea. In particular, I enjoy having strawberry cake and a hot green tea latte at a cafe near my house.
I can’t wait until next break so I can eat more of this amazing food!
(Copyright 2019 Shauna Kwag)