Happy Birthday to Me!
27.08.2013 - 27.08.2013
Oh, the day has finally come. Another year older, another year wiser. I think I saw an extra wrinkle on my face when I looked in the mirror this morning. Crap. I was supposed to feel super excited about this day, but I’m not. 21 runs don't even exist in Korea because the drinking age in South Korea is 19. And our exploration seminar officially starts today!
Today, we went to the National Museum of Korean History. I am not really a museum type of person. History was my least favorite subject in school. Artifacts start to look the same when you stare at them all day. However, I actually enjoyed the parts that showed the different statues of Buddha. It was really interesting to see how the images of Buddha have changed between Korea, China, and Japan. Even the bells in the temples of each country were different. After a couple hours roaming around the museum, we went to the Food Court to eat lunch. I ordered some cold noodles, which was perfect for the hot, humid weather. We walked around the garden outside the museum, which turned out to be a great ice breaker for us to bond. I learned interesting Korean words, but I forgot most of them. Apparently, coffee, copy, and nose bleed all have the same sound, but a slight difference in tone. So if you wanted to ask a barista for coffee with an off tone, you might be asking for a nosebleed!
My lovely classmates!
Afterwards, we all took the train to Wangsimni to Professor Kim’s mother’s house. In front of her house, there were nappa, cucumbers, and leeks soaked in large tubs filled with water. We were greeted by the sweetest old lady. Her house was very small, but we managed to fit all 17 of us inside by moving all the couches and tables to the side. She handed us a very large bowl and some gloves. Richard, Serena, and I were in charge of mixing and making the kimchi. She tossed in red chillip peppers, leeks, fish paste, fish sauce, sesame seeds, grated ginger, miced garlic, sliced daikon, and carrots all together in one bowl. We taste tested the mixture, which tasted like sea water. It was like eating a brick of salt with a sprinkle of chilli powder. I guess she didn’t think it was salty enough because she tossed in more salty dish paste into the mixture.
Volunteers mixing the ingredients for making kimchi! It's harder than you think it is...
Afterwards, we got the nappa from outside and rubbed the mixture into the nappa. Since nappa doesn’t have much flavor at all, it will absorb all the flavor from the salty/spicy mixture. I have to give props to the ajumas who prepare kimchi every day because it’s hard work! When I was preparing the kimchi, it made me appreciate old people a lot more. Even though we were wearing gloves, the chilli mixture managed to seep into my gloves and my arms got all red. After Richard finished the last nappa, I thought it was over. I was dead wrong. Professor’s mother brought in a whole bunch of cucumbers for us to marinate. After we were done, we tried the cucumber marinated in the chili mixture, but all I could taste was salt. However, everything was going to be alright because even though the vegetables are salty now, it will absorb the saltiness and neutralize it. In the very end, the professor's mother tossed in cubed daikon onto the remaining bits of mixture. Koreans don't waste - we used every last bit of mixture to marinate the vegetables.
The finished product. We have to let the fermentation process begin.
Making kimbap! We put rice, various vegetables, ham, eggs, and pickled radish inside the roll! Super quick, easy, and delicious! People usually eat kimbap as a snack or a quick to-go meal. Professor's mom also made us delicious spicy fishcake soup! /foodcoma
After the more physically demanding work, we made kimbap, which literally means seaweed (kim) rice (bap). It was really fun and everyone got to eat their own rolls. (I didn’t die, so that means it was a success, right?) I really enjoyed this moment because everyone worked together to prepare a whole meal. It made me feel like we were a family. It broke all the awkwardness between us. We talked, laughed, and ate delicious kimbap.
Before heading back home, we went to get face masks at Hongdae. We bought 5000 won baseball caps and 2000 won ice cream. What a night! Time to go back home and put face masks on!
Even though I didn't drink on my 21 run, I still felt very special today. I got to make kimbap and kimchi with my new Korean family, which was a thousand times better than a couple shots of soju or a few cans of beer.
My new family.