Besides my family, the thing I miss most about home is the food. Not that I can't get food here, but the food I'm used to - my favorite foods - are sometimes hard to come by. Either Korea just doesn't have it or it's super expensive.
When I first came to Korea I HATED the food. Now I like spicy/hot food (Mexican food, buffalo wings, etc...) but Korean spicy is... an entire different category of hot-ness... It's hard to explain but in my opinion, it's an acquired taste. I refused to touch kimchi for at least three months and now I crave it (but not enough to keep it in my refrigerator...I now know why Koreans have separate refrigerators for the stuff...)
Last week I ate some AMAZING food. AMAZING.
Duck starts my amazing food journey. Not just any duck. Duck kabobs. I'll relive the experience for you... You go in, sit down (on the floor) and the ajuma (older lady) brings you water then all of your side dishes. There was lettuce, pickled sesame leaves, radishes, kimchi, pepper paste, garlic, onions in soy sauce, salad of some sort... (among others... the plethora of side dishes is typical for a Korean restaurant)
Then the ajashi (older man) brought hot coals. The table is made for a special contraption that houses coals in like... sections... Then the kabobs with duck meat are brought out and inserted between the coals and the contraption rotates them. Like a rotisserie at your table! The skin gets nice and crispy. The meat is tender and juicy. Mmmmmm. And you make a little taco with the lettuce and other side dishes that you desire. Wow my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Then the next Wednesday was CRABS!!! Every year a group of teachers goes to the outdoor fish market in town and picks out/feasts on king crab. I had eaten crab maybe once or twice during trips to Florida and I think once at Red Lobster. No crab has anything on the king crab I ate that night.
We all met in front of the market and made our way to the crabs. The first guy wanted 70,000 won per kilo ($70/kilo and the crab he put on the scale was 3.5 kilos. He wanted $170 for one crab!!) After much haggling between vendors, we found our crabs! Then up we went to the restaurant. The vendor gave us "service-uhhh" of fresh oysters. (They were good but HUGE. I like the oysters I can just suck out of the shell without having to chew...)
At last, our king crabs came out. Where's the butter?? Let me just tell you that this crab was so sweet that it didn't need butter. So each of us madly worked to devour our crab (kitchen shears made it so much easier than stupid nut crackers) and we finished. THEN the ajuma colleced the part of the crabs that wasn't eaten. I'm told that what happens then is (this next part will likely sound super gross) they mix the rest of the crab inners and make a fried rice with that and seaweed and some other stuff. And they put an individual portion in the crab shell and served it. AND they make a crab/miscellaneous stew to have with the rice. The seafood, friends and beer and soju made for a wonderful evening!