Traditional Ddukbokki

17 04 2012

Last weekend, while walking from Gwanghamun to Gyeongbokgung Palace, I visited 통인 시장 (Tongin Market) for the first time. I am moth-to-flame when the word 시장 appears.

Entering Tongin, I passed two soybean stew restaurants before seeing two 옛날 떡뽁기 (traditional pan-fried rice cake) stands. What is this? This ddokbokki 덕뽁기 doesn’t look like standard street fare.

The grandmother who served the rice cakes explained she learned this style of cooking from her grandmother and has since run this rice cake stand for 26 years.

Instead of sauce, grandma uses garlic, spring onions and crushed red pepper and dry rubs this mixture into the rice cakes before stir-frying the ddokbokki in sesame oil.

I wish I had Smellavision to share the aroma with you.
This dish and the standard street fare belong in two separate categories.

Getting to Tongin is easy. Exit the Gyeongbokgung subway stop from exit 2, hang a left, walk for 10 minutes, until you see the market entrance on your left. Be sure to eat at this stand:

Sudafed-less in Seoul

8 04 2012

“I’ll just take the cough drops please,” I told the corner store pharmacist.
If I go to bed early tonight, my immune system will surely kill this cold, I thought.

Well, here we are on Easter Sunday. I still have a cold but no pride and no Sudafed.
Tomorrow, we take mid-terms, and every pharmacy is closed. I can’t even return to the corner store for the pharmacist to watch me eat crow.

So drugs being a non-option, I commenced the quest for chicken soup today.
You know how it is when you’re searching for something specific.

I could not find chicken soup at any restaurant or market it seemed.
Spam soup, yes. Shellfish bouillon, check. Chicken soup, fail.
Maybe the Chinese restaurant will have hot-n-sour soup.
Not on this side of town. Maybe not outside of America.

Being sick in a foreign country sucks.
I had almost reached the pity police, when I passed this store front two minutes from home:

chicken soup restaurant!

Dear God, I know not your methods.

I ordered the 반계탕/ pan gye tang—one half chicken served in its stock with spring onions and two urns of fresh kimchi and baby garlic on the side.

What a comforting meal.

before ordering the requisite rice, flip yo bird.

The soup came with a sake service and house-made ginger tea.
If you are sick in Sinchon, I will take you to 장수보감 / chang soo boh kam, which serves only chicken soup.

In the meantime, am I supposed to learn something from today?
Have faith;
Be patient;
Ask for help;
Check arrogance at the airport?

Lost in conjugation

6 04 2012

Do you remember your modals?
My English students at Dongsuh Foods told me they learned in their Korean high schools that “could”, “would” and “might” have the same meaning in English.

dongsuh foods--makers of powdered creamer coffee and oreo cookies

I let it go at the time, grateful we had understanding on “should” and “will”.

Then Nu ri asks me last night, isn’t “shall” the future tense of “should”?
That’s what she learned in high school.

Hyo Jung, my Friday night Toyota student, echoed this and added,
“‘might’ is the future tense of ‘may’ right?”


This makes me wonder if our Korean teachers adjust any grammar for our non-native brains.

The Korean grammar for “have to” is explained as inclusive of “should” as well. My students use “have to” in English often. I thought they were emphatic, but maybe there is no “should” equivalent in Korean.

For the record, “shall” is not the future tense of “should”.
You want to fight about it? Let’s go.

Also learned in Korea this week—

Election day
Is a national holiday.

Next Wednesday, businesses are closed, and my Toyota students won’t be learning English, because Koreans have the day off to vote. Fascinating.

If November 2 was an American holiday, would more citizens vote?