Thursday, February 10, 2011

To The Motherland!

Well would you look at the time! I'm off to Seoul this afternoon for two full days and three nights of mayhem with a few of my friends living in Japan. None of us have achieved any level of proficiency in Korean; I can barely read hangul and I think I might be the only one who has bothered to learn any emergency phrases ("Dog meat soup, please" - "Bosintang juseyo").

This doesn't feel like any kind of pilgrimage or identity-searching journey though. It's just a long weekend adventuring in a new place with friends. I'm not sure whether to feel sadness at the lack of emotional/personal weight of this trip or to feel relieved that I am just going to eat Pizza Hut and muck around enjoying myself. We are staying at a hostel that shares a building with Dunkin Donuts. My to-eat list for Seoul is quite optimistic and involves a lot of meals-squeezed-between-meals.

1.) Bosintang (dog meat soup)
2.) Pizza Hut
3.) Dunkin Donuts
4.) Korean BBQ with galbi (beef) and samgyeopsal (fatty pork)
5.) Dakgalbi (spicy chicken mixed with veggies and rice cakes)
6.) Tteokbokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce)
7.) Mandu (dumplings)
8.) Japchae (cellophane noodles)
9.) Jajangmyeong (Chinese black bean noodles)
10.) Samgyetang (chicken stuffed with rice and dates)

I am definitely in denial that Seoul is going to be colder than Berlin, which felt as if it bordered on absolute zero outside. I will regret my poor choices in socks and appropriate layers. I suppose I will have to drown my discomfort in hot soup, preferably with dog meat floating in it. Part of me associates eating dog with revenge against all the stupid dogs who have jumped on me, licked my face and hands, scared the crap out of me by barking at me while I walk in the dark, or in recent cases chased me snarling viciously while I run. It also marks a departure from the Western mindset that dogs are somehow precious and not fit for human consumption. Meat is meat; if I could eat babies, I would.

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