My town has only one well-known fast food joint, Lotteria. I don't go there very often, but when I do - it's for a shrimp burger. Zen Kimchi has an interesting post comparing the shrimp and squid burgers, and also reviews the freaky Frico burger, which I agree is interesting and tasty.
My local Lotteria is a hot spot for hosting kid's birthday parties on the weekends, and they have large cork board on the way in with pictures of all kinds of little kids in their party hats, munching on their fries. I like to browse through them and see my students in their more natural environment.
Anyhow, just last week our Lotteria relocated! Now it's just a couple blocks up from where it used to be. In a newly renovated building, it's now attached to a new 7-11. I thought I'd stop in and check it out, and I was pretty impressed!
This is a vast improvement from the previous early 1980's style deco. It was actually quite a nice dining environment!
Check out the booths, cozy for a nice family meal!
I was glad to get in there before everything is coated in greasy little hand prints. And I wonder if it's just a thing with my local Lotteria staff, who don't believe in wiping down the tables after their customers leave. More than half the tables had meal remnants on them, and I wondered if the patrons are supposed to clean themsleves.
Regardless, it makes for something new and exciting in these here parts, but what pleases me even more is the big sign I passed on the shop where Lotteria used to be: Paris Baguette!
When I first moved here, I felt really put out when I learned I was going to have to make an hour and twenty minute round trip bus ride downtown to get cat food. That was when I imagined that I might have a vibrant social life. (HA!) Nowadays, if I see a bus pulling up when I finish work, I sometimes just hop on it. I don't mind the ride; it gives me a chance to read, or listen to tunes, or get lulled into a whiplashy nap. And the bus lets me off right outside Paris Baguette, where I can get some fairly decent bread. A lot of it is varying versions of fluffy white crap, but they can make a decent baguette and occassionally I luck out with a small loaf of dense sourdough. The tiny rye loaf is chewy - but really doesn't taste like rye at all. It would definitely anger pastrami, if such a beast existed here. (But oh, how I dreamt of a real pastrami on rye while I tried to enjoy my fake rye toast the other morning.)
Anyways. We're really gettin' fancy round these here parts these days!
Pasta! Let's have some pasta! Monday nights seem made for pasta and a movie, don't'cha think?
I really like cooking, but for the most part I don't really bother following recipes. Lucky for me, things usually turn out pretty well! I felt like spaghetti with a cream sauce so I looked up a couple recipes. (Actually - I really felt like having some kind of lasagna or stuffed shells, but the fact that I am oven-less prevented me from going through with that plan.) So stove top pasta it was!
I wanted chicken breasts, but they don't have any at any of the supermarkets here (at least not de-boned and skinless) so I ended up buying a whole chicken and hacking it apart once I got home. No problem, though - I threw away the skin, set aside the hunks of meat, and threw the bones in a pot with some water, vegetables and spices to make some chicken broth. That turned out well. While that was simmering, I chopped up a bunch of eggplant, mushrooms, onions, and garlic! I stir fried that a little bit, then dredged the chicken meat in some flour with pepper and browned that in a pan. (I accidentally threw in just a little too much salt in the broth - so I avoided it for the rest of the cooking.) Then I threw in some wine.
At this point, I thought to take some pictures. Here some broth gets ladelled into the mix: And that all partied on low heat for awhile, making sure the chicken was cooked through.
Then the veggies jumped in with the mix and I zested a lemon and dealt with some some wee tomatoes. This one was pretty happy to see me: until I explained to him how he was going to be halved and thrown into a pot!
Some cream and milk, and chopped parmesean and the tomatoes are all together now:
Pasta is cooked, and the sauce is spooned over it and it's sprinkled with the grated lemon zest! Yummmmmmmmmy!
Really, I thought the best things about this dish were the tomatoes and lemon zest. They added a bit of tangy zing to the meal. It was really very delicious, though!
Oh, and just for the hell of it, here's a meal from last Monday's comfort food and movie night, shrimp and veggies in a curry (korma) sauce with paneer. I threw a few cashews on the top and enjoyed it with a nice bowl of rice. It was really good too.
Man, I wish I had someone to cook for other than myself, though. It just makes for a happier meal, I think, if there's someone to share your dinner with. (And better yet, someone to say "Damn, woman, this is some good food!")
By the way, last Monday's movie was "Miss Potter," which I enjoyed. It made me homesick, thinking of my mother. This week's selection was "Happy Feet," and I really loved it. The animation was fantastic. I highly recommend it!
I was so surprised to arrive to work to find another box from Belgium on my desk! Once again, the far too generous Eva struck me with kindness once more. She blows my mind! Check out my goodies! Mmmm! Chocolate and cheesy-macaroni and candies! No, wait,...those aren't candies.
They're wee delicious sausages. Or rather, they were. They didn't last a day. These were unshared. HA!
Sexy chocolate indeed! With Ginger! This was a little shared. The other bar in the first picture is my favourite - dark rich chocolate and hot red pepper. I think the sweet and the spice match so well together!
But wait! There's more! A LOT more! There was candy for the kids and more Daim for me. I didn't want to, but I shared a couple of the bars. I shared most of everything, actually. Sometimes I feel like I work with hyenas. They cackle as they ravage my parcels.
See at the foreground of that last picture? They were sheets of edible paper that kind of tasted like ice cream cones. Very cool - and the kids thought they were great. See how sad my little boys in my 1st class were when I entered the class? (They're often crying as they love to fight one another before I get there.) Such a sad boy!
But then we ate some of Eva's candy and that put everyone in a happy mood! Shoestring licorice! Right on!
Now everyone is happy and the boys are best friends! Perhaps peace would rule the world if we all just shared a bit of candy, eh?
In my next class, I explained how when I was a kid, I would bite either end off the long licorice and use it as a straw. The kids had to try it out, and they all jammed their long red candy straws into my water.
Isn't this pretty? Rose flavoured little balls of heaven. They were really very yummy.
There were little marshmallow mushrooms, and little chocolate filled koala cookies. So cute, it was a pity to have to bite their heads off. Bye-Bye Wee Yummy Koala Bears.
Eva also included some candies that are pretty unique. I didn't take a great picture - but they're on the far right of the second group-of-goodies photo. They're little jellies that are monkey shaped and covered in a good coating of salt. Eva's told me that salty-sweet candies are really loved over there, but they're quite, well, (forgive me Eva) awful tasting. (Eva will understand. She wasn't very keen on some ginseng candies I sent her - and I agree they're quite un-delicious, too.) Funny thing with the kids though...if I give them something they don't recognize, they often take it tentatively and are very hesitant to try it out, despite my urging, "Go on, eat it - it's good!"
But if you offer them a pack of candies and say "I wouldn't try this if I were you, they're really very bad and you might throw up," they're all clamouring to try it out. And then they all squeal in horror clutching at their throats. I thought a couple of them were going to kill me when I confessed, showing them the front of the package, that they'd just tried candy made out of monkey meat. HA! Then many of them requested a couple more to take home and feed to their parents and siblings. Kids are mean!
Much thanks again, Eva. And thank you for sending another book I'm looking forward to reading! I need a sunny vacation and a beach to deal with my pile of books waiting to be read. Eva's recently gone to Sweden to celebrate Easter with her family. She's got some nice photos up on her site! My co-workers and students thank you as well, my friend. Any day I get a parcel from you it's guaranteed to be really fun at school. The last time I got a package from any of my family back home was probably about a year and a half ago, and yet I've gotten three from you this past month. Your kindness really overwhelms me. Kamsa hamneeda from us all!
In my ongoing quest to learn new things every day, I learnt something that displeased me the other day. I was browsing through a Buy and Sell Forum here in Korea, and I noticed that some woman was trying to sell some DVDs. She mentioned that some of them were of differing regions. I didn't know what that meant.
I got curious and checked my DVDs and noted they are all Region 3. See?
"But what does this mean?" I wondered, and so I googled my way toward understanding.
Well, what it means, Jellybean, is that I am not going to be able to play my DVDs in North America unless I bring my Korean DVD Player home with a power adaptor, and maybe a voltage transformer. (More stuff I need to learn about on another day.) Did you guys know abut this? Why didn't you tell me? Huh? Having DVDs from Region 3 means that I can only watch them in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and "parts of Southeast Asia." While I am enjoying living in South Korea, I doubt very much that I'll want to stay here forever, even though it might sound tempting to be able to watch my copy of "Spanglish" over and over. Why the hell, I wondered, wouldn't I be able to watch DVDs in Canada that I'd bought with my heard earned money over here?
From this detailed website, they attempt to answer the question: "Why does DVD region coding exist, you ask? According to what the public is being told, such coding is a tool to protect copyright and film distribution rights (in other words, movie studio profits). Movies are released in theaters in different parts of the world at different times throughout the year. That Summer blockbuster in the U.S. may end up being the Christmas blockbuster overseas. If that occurs, the DVD version of the movie may be out in the U.S. while it is still showing in theaters overseas."
Well fan-fricking-tastic! I'm glad that the folks in Hollywood can keep their fat wallets fat while I cry about not being able to watch my copy of "The World According to Garp," over and over whilst at home in Canada sucking on a Molson Canadian. As it is, I haven't really bought any new releases! I usually go for the much lower priced older releases. Now I've managed - in the last half a year since I bought myself a DVD player for my birthday, to amass about 20 movies, plus a few seasons of "The West Wing, Entourage, and Carnivale" (which I just can't seem to get through!) I've had my eye on more seasons of "The West Wing," and seasons 3 onward of "The Sopranos."
I did, in fact, buy a new release last week: "Happy Feet!" I bought it thinking I could crack it open and watch it and then mail it off to my niece for her birthday at the end of May. She would have been pretty disappointed once she found out it was unplayable on their machine. Crap! That plan is useless unless I ship her my DVD player (with converterm adaptor, and a few magical tokens and spells to ensure it works.)
Alright, I know about movies being released in different countries at different times, but what about older movies that have already been released everywhere. I wonder why I'm not able to watch them in any player anywhere in the world. Doesn't seem fair to me, and I'm too annoyed to bother trying to look up the reason now. As far as I'm concerned, it's just another example of The MAN trying to bring us down!
Kamikaze and I spent a lot of time in bed today, alternately napping and taking each other's picture. Well, I took most of the pictures really. He played with the camera strap. I think if his eyes were open just a little bit rounder, he'd look like an owl.
I squish his head!
You know what I find interesting and endearing? There are over six billion people on Earth, but there is only ONE person who Kamikaze will tolerate cuddling and kissing and snuggling up to nap with from. ME. He's so shy otherwise, and will get all scared if the doorbell rings, or someone else is in the apartment. I'll usually hoist him up on the bed behind some pillows where he can survery the intruder but still remain invisible. Because a stack of pillows makes you invisible. You knew that right? And yet, Kamikaze totally trusts me. He lays on the bath mat outside the bathroom door while I take a shower and he knows I won't turn the shower nozzle toward him, even as a joke. (Water is the second most evil thing on earth, next to strangers.) He's patient while I arrange him into a suitable spooning position before bed, and he's even gotten used to my need to hold his paw all the time.
I love animals, but I love this one more than anything.
Now if I could only train him to clean the apartment or play with my hair before I fall asleep, I would marry him.
Anyhow. AHEM*! Speaking of owls, have you seen this video of an owl that turns into a cat?
This weekend's WCB event is being hosted for the first time by Puddy and Kate over at A Byootaful Life! Good job! Now scoot on over there and check out the other kitties!
Here's Buddy: The Good Boy taken today on my way to work. He comes to school with me like I'm Mary and he's my little lamb. He's such a gentle playful dog. Once we're upstairs, I take off my shoes, change into my sandals, and then step inside to fetch a sausage from the mini-fridge in the Teacher's Room. Lately Jane wants to feed him, but he hates her and tears off in fear when she appears. He comes back, though, when I call him - and takes the meat so gently from my hand. Sometimes he happily tosses it around a few times, and then I say "Okay, buh-bye Buddy!" and he trots away back down the hall and the stairs. I go inside to watch him from a classroom window as he prances down the street with a sausage hanging out of his mouth. Sometimes, it's the absolute highlight of my day.
Here's the cover of one of my student's sketchbooks: Time, Veal and imaginary! Excellent!
Oh, Patience! Where is mine? I've lost it. Has one of you lot stolen it? Give it back!
I was so tense and annoyed today. A headache came on quickly in my second class of the day, and then I had to keep reminding myself to quit clenching my jaw. It was making my head feel worse. I think I might be having a bit of the routine blues. Weekdays just bleed into one another, and each class seems like just a slightly different version of the one I had before it. I've been teaching some of these kids for almost three years now, and each class starts out the same way, I come in, greet them, and tell them to take out their books. Every time. You'd think by now they would have gotten the message that their books need to be taken out. Why, oh why, do I have to tell them every single time? And really, it's not like I tell them once and they all comply, some kids I have to ask them 3 or 4 times. I know in the grand scheme of all that is our universe, this doesn't make a lick of difference,...but on a day like today it still manages to just get me all riled up. And then it goes on from there. "Sit down, stop speaking Korean, stop hitting each other, turn around in your chair, stop fighting, be quiet please, turn to page 63. Page 63. Six- three. Hey, you, turn to page sixty three. SIXTY-THREE. TURN! YOUR PAGE! DO IT! DO IT!DOOOOO ITTTTT," and then suddenly I'm choking someone. It's all fun and games until I start choking someone, eh?
Actually, I've yet to choke a student. Today I just sat quietly watching the students shriek and throw things at each other and not turn their pages to sixty three. I gazed at them passively while my insides twisted themselves into my-god-I-want-to-choke-someone knots. Eventually one of the students will notice my silence and somehow recognize the glimmer of evil in my eye and urge the other kids to settle down. Which they usually do. For about five minutes.
I'll try to get back to my normal fairly calm self tomorrow and make some jokes aimed at the chatty, apparently deaf, non-page-turning ring leaders.
I go into the staffroom for a tiny break between near-chokings, and I have to talk to my new co-worker about something and it just frustrates me so much! Yesterday I said to her, "Well, at least you can explain to the students in Korean about the grammar we're working on." She said, "Alice?" That's as far as she got with what I'd said. The phrase "at least" was a giant neon stop sign.
Today I said something about "our job." The resulting exchange went like this: "Well our job is,..." "Joe-bu?" "Job." "Joe-bu?" "Work." "Wu-ku?" "Work!" "Weh-ku?" "Here. What we do here. Teach." "Huh?" I smiled at her, and she tried to pass me a pencil. "Please write down." "I can't!" I said, heading out of the room. "I have to go choke the students!"
Hey! Remember when I made some "mock ricotta?" I was reading a blog that I really enjoy - RunJenRun, and in her latest post she talks about making cheese. Paneer, to be specific. And you know what? That's pretty much the same recipe and technique I used to make fake ricotta!
I googled "paneer recipe" and found out that indeed, what I'd made (and have made a couple more times since) was paneer! Here's a recipe! I skipped the pressing of the cheese, so mine did come out more ricotta-ish - than, say feta-ish. I still can't find cheesecloth, so I ended up cutting up a clean yellow T-shirt I bought last summer and never wore. Next time, I'm going to try squishing the hell out of it and see if I like that better. The paneer recipe site suggests crumbling it up over a curry - which I think I'll try sometime soon.
All around me flowers are blooming, birds are twittering geefully,and children run and shout in the streets with their light jackets on. COFFEE COFFEE BUTTERFLY POO!
And I cough. And cough some more. And then I get tired and nod off for a moment. But then I COUGH some more. My face turns bright red and I risk peeing my pants. My doctor switched up the medication today to include codeine, so maybe I'll get a little shut-eye tonight. That would be gooooood!
It is spring-like here. A little chilly at night. I could turn on the floor heat, but I won't. With the exception of that horrble dust storm on Sunday, the weather's been really nice! Saturday was verging on being the same as an early summer day in Canada! The cherry blossoms are in bloom, and my town - which frankly - is pretty much a shithole for the other 50 weeks of the year, is really looking pretty with it's cherry blossom tree-lined streets. I like walking around with the white and pink petals floating down on the breeze over my head.
Still, though, I think the Japanese have a better idea on how to celebrate the "sakura" season, with their hanabi parties. Parks are filled with families and friends relaxing on blankets with food and drink, and more food and lots of drink, enjoying the lovely flowering trees. I've never seen this kind of thing going on here. Maybe it does, but mostly I've just seen people wandering around amongst the trees.
Apparently the cherry blossoms are very beautiful where Jane lives, and she's invited us to drive out to her place after work the last couple of days. I've declined, because I'm so tired with my cold, but also because it's over 2 hours of travel time there and back. Really, it's best to view the cherry blossoms in the daytime. I imagine we'd get to Jane's place, have a look, "Yep, that's lovely," and then get on the bus back home. Now if she were to invite us on, say, Saturday - and there was a blanket and picnic basket and some frosty bevvies, I'd be all over that!
As for my Saturday visit to Dr. Demento regarding my gauzepit, it wasn't nearly as bad as Friday. I walked into the doctor's office and greeted him in Korean with a, "Hello, Dr. Scary!" Luckily this time there was no scalpel involved, praise Allah. I whimpered a few times, but didn't cry. Holy crap - the gauze they pulled out that was stuffed into my armpit smelt BAD!
So they re-stuffed my pit, covered it all with a mass of gauze pads and taped me all up. It's been driving me squirelly all day. It itches. I think the tape is really irritating my skin. I'm trying very hard not to just yank it off, but I'm scared to see what's under there, and I'm worried I'll puke if I have to pull out my stuffing myself.
On top of that, I cought a cold. I'm pretty sure I know who gave it to me too: the sixth grader who sat beside me in my six o'clock class on Friday. He had a wicked cold, which I didn't realize until the sneezed full force in my face. Now I've got a fever and cough and a head full of guck.
Surely the yellow dust that was clogging the air today isn't helping any either. It was the worst that I've ever seen it down here. It felt good, though, to not have anything to do today other than rest. And claw at my underarm. Whine bitch moan.
Cheers! Clink my cup of Neo-Citrine and let's toast to a better week! I hope you're all feeling well.
UPDATE**** I couldn't stand it - I pulled the bandage off. Want to see it? It's gross...and I found a surprise inside. A leech! No, it wasn't a leech. But guess what was in me? . A rubber band? Really?!? Gauze and some sort of rubber band thing. What IS that?!?! It was stuffed in the hole in my armpit. Lucky for me, my cold has knocked out my senses of taste and smell. (Not that I would have tasted it anyhow.) Ewww! Has anyone ever seen this rubber wound stuffing thing, or is it back from Yonder Days of Ye Olde Witchdoctor? Ew!
UPDATE AGAIN**** I forgot to update. I asked my boss to ask the doc what was up with the rubber band. It was a drain of sorts and was stuck into my pit in two places to draw the pussy demons out and to prevent the insicions from closing up. Still, ewwww!
I got a couple packages in the mail from my kind friend Eva who lives in Belgium. As usual, my co-workers were all excited about me getting mail. The package was waiting on my desk when I came to work, and I was urged to open it before I even had my jacket off.
Ah - what a lovely package filled with goodness. Look at them: I got a book in a seperate package. "Falling," is by Elizabeth Jane Howard, and it looks like it's going to be a good read! I can't wait to get into it. Here we have some hot chocolate - regular and bubbly minty Aero bar packets! We've got Walker's oat and cranberry cookies, (yum) some gourmet jelly beans, (the popcorn ones are really cool) A lovely orange and dark chocolate bar, some skittles and sour bomb candies, and some Daim! That stuff was sooooo good! It reminds me of Skor bars. Eva tells me they come as ice cream or frozen cake in Belgium. Yum! Not pictured is a Curly Wurly bar. Jane asked if she could open it - while she was opening it - and she diviied it up. I like her, but she's shameless.
Most of the goodies in this picture I shared. I like sharing. I laughed my ass off at the faces the kids pulled eating those sour fizzy bombs. All the kids in the 1st two hours of classes enjoyed one.
Such a great present, eh? But wait! There's more! These things are MINE! (ALL MINE! Most precious!) Meat - glorious meat! Yumyumyumyum. Eva usualy sends some elk or moose sausage, and I did get some this time too! Two packages! But I also got some little chorizo sausages, a pocket salami, and some very special looking Boizet pur porc saucisson. And oh! Macaroni and cheese! A staple of the Canadian diet! Awesome! In the foreground are traditional candies I'm thinking. Most unusual - a combination of salty and a little sweet. Very interesting.
Now please go back up and look at the second picture. See the brown box at the top? "Open it!" Jane insisted. I did. "Oooooohhh!" we all sighed. Pretty, pretty chocolates. As Jane's hand reached out I snapped the box folds closed. "Nope! These are MINE!" I tucked them safely into my bag. Mine mine mine.
They were heavenly. I wondered if they were made up on a cloud somewhere by little cherubs. Eva told me, though, "The chocolate is from my favourite chocolatiere - they are handmade by a guy in the Belgian countryside. Ha has a shop near my work since about a year." She says every now and again she spoils herself with a box. And now she's spoiled me!
I love everything you sent, Eva. You're too much! Now I've started to ready a box to send back to Eva. If any of you folks in Korea have some suggestion of something interesting and delicious I could pick up, please let me know!
Over Christmas and the New Year, she did some travelling in Thailand and Cambodia. She's got some really great photos on her site. Click on the photos to biggify them. I especially loved the giant rooty trees! Thank you Eva, (and my students and co-workers thank you as well) you really made my week!