I was reading T.R. Reid’s book, Confucius Lives Next Door, a few weeks ago when I came across this reference:
Confucius said: Isn’t it a pleasure when you can make practical use of the things you have studied? Isn’t it a pleasure to have an old friend visit from afar? Isn’t it the sure sign of a gentleman, that he does not take offense when others fail to recognize his ability?”
I had the pleasure of having an an old friend visit from afar, a lovely person I first met when we were both 22 and living in France.
She and her husband met us on Jeju Island and then came up to Seoul to stay with us for a few extra days.
While here, we mostly gorged on Korean food — decadent braised ribs, royal Icheon white rice spreads, light-fried jeon with makkeolli, lots of pork — but one night she cooked for us in our tiny kitchen.
Some Jamie Oliver recipe involving roasted chicken on a bed of potatoes and chorizo, with parsley and lemon zest.
Weekend getaway to Jeju Island!
Rapeseed flowers were peaking on U-do.
We stopped the car to frolic in the tea fields.
I was on the verge of plucking a citrus from a tree when an ajumma’s voice sharply came out from the bushes.
Thank you, weekend and friends.
I went over to one of my neighbor’s house a couple weeks ago and got her amazing vodka pickle recipe. We made two large jars of it, plus pickled mushrooms. They are both so DELICIOUS I keep sneaking them into every single meal. I can’t believe the SNAP the pickles have.
A couple days ago, my man returned to Seoul and immediately I asked very nicely for him to make his German potato salad, which uses vinegar instead of mayonnaise and is abundant in bacon and chopped onions. We ended up having a rather German-y meal with the sausage (from Meili’s in Itaewon) and all. But the highlight: PICKLES.
Homemade Korean food, delicious and much easier to do three meals in a row when I’m alone and trying to stick to my 20,000 won challenge. Only thing is, no matter how pretty the rice, I’m beginning to get tired of it.
My baby hyacinth, which I thought was an onion bulb when I saw it on sale, has grown up so nicely, if a little crookedly.
I set a short term challenge for myself: Get by on 20,000 won ($20) for 7 days.
The weekend was easy. I cleaned the guest bedroom, caught up on movies and TV shows, and read a book. I had plenty of time to cook for myself. No expenses until this evening, when I spent 25 percent of my budget for groceries (tofu, mushrooms, and broccoli).
My biggest challenges will be: my daily afternoon coffee, daily lunch, and daily taxi ride to work, the total for which ranges from 60.000 to 100,000 won a week. I have five days and 15,000 left in my budget. Do you think I can do it? I wasn’t so sure myself, especially because I became so hungry while out this afternoon and was dreaming of a katsu lunch, which could have blown my weekly allotment right then and there.
One good news is, I ran into someone while riding the bus to Namsan Tower, and out of the blue he asked if I wanted to go see a classical music concert tomorrow at Sejong Performing Arts Center. Free, he said, it’s the daughter of a friend who is performing. Free? The price sounds about right.
Sometimes it’s surreal to be living in this CITY. With this much beauty. Around every corner. A beauty that changes daily.
For someone who lives so close to the river, I hardly cross it enough.
Now that the end is in sight, I feel that familiar preemptive nostalgia.
I have barely seen my lover for the last several months. We play ping pong with our work trips, and this morning he left again.
One of our favorite restaurants in Seoul, OK2, is closing its original location in a few weeks and moving to Yeoido, so we had one last little date there yesterday.
The highlight was the fresh pasta made with shepherd’s purse pesto. In Korean, 냉이.
OK2 has one of the most reasonably priced course dinners I have ever seen anywhere. 6 courses, 1 palate cleanser, and coffee or tea for 70,000 won. Besides that, I had two first dates there, one of them with the current lucky hero. How can I not love this place?
Daffodil fields in the Netherlands by Brad Mitchell
Daffodils hold a special place in my heart