Monday, November 12, 2012

Glorious Vacation: Day 2 (Election Day)

I stayed in my motel room until dinner to watch CNN (HILARIOUS!!!), the concession and acceptance speeches. Overall, I was rather pleased with the outcome.

Buoyed by my smug liberal schadenfreude, I went across town to "Tteokgalbi Street" which is not as cohesive or as well-advertised as the Budae Jjigae Street in Uijeongbu. Frustrating! Nonetheless, I found a restaurant (not too skeezy, not too fancy) and gorged myself on tteokgalbi. It seems to be a regional specialty that I have also never heard of before! Before a few days ago, anyway, when I was casting about on the Internet to see what I should do/eat in Gwangju.

It was a bit of a shenanigans situation to find the place, but I did! On the subway ride over, an ajumma decided to dote on me. She offered to hold my bag (which, despite reading in my "Rough Guide to Korea" that this is a thing that happens all the time, WAS THE FIRST TIME A STRANGER'S DONE THAT EVER), and then when the seat next to her opened up she pulled on my sleeve to let me know the seat was open. After the first couple stops she dug into her purse and forced some candies into my hand. I smiled and said thank you, and put them in my purse for later (I seriously was going to save them for after my planned calorie binge of a dinner). Right before her stop came up, she also handed me a bag full of tteok! Aw! If she had gotten off at my stop I would have asked her to come to dinner with me. I had a couple right then because I was hungry and I also wanted her to know that I appreciated her gifts of food.

Gwangju is in Jeolla province, which is considered the bread basket of Korea. There is an astounding variety of food available and I will never get a chance to eat it all (especially because I hate going to restaurants alone and also because of my above seafood rule). Jong-min assured me I woud notice the difference if I ever went out to eat: "They'll have a lot more side dishes than they do in Seoul. They just have so much more food. They always have." At my tteok galbi dinner I had ten different banchan. TEN! The last time I'd had so many was when I got ssambap in Gyeongju. There were four kinds of kimchi alone, plus bean sprouts and daikon and anchovies (pass) and red beans in sesame oil. Not to mention a wide variety of greenery in which to wrap the meat, instead of just the usual romaine lettuce; the best was a very mild perilla leaf.

After I had sated myself on minced rib meat and garlic, I went back to my motel room and enjoyed a bottle of makgeolli before turning in early. Things to do the next morning, after all!

No comments:

Post a Comment