Food in Korea

After a little more than a week of buying food or scrounging for some staples I recognize despite all the labels being in Korean, I made a grocery store run and bought food that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with, how to prepare, or looked similar to foods I’d find at home. I figure, cook the foods and see if I like them, much like I do with recipes at home. All my recipes end up doctored and tweaked anyway, and by the time I’ve really made them good, they hardly look anything like the original. I find it’s best this way.

This past week, my grocery bag (because I forgot my 100 won piece coin to get my basket…) was heavy, but consisted of the following items: American style sliced cheese, canned café lattes, mango yogurt, greens, blueberries, nutella, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, weird looking zucchini, fish cakes, sweet jam/custard filled pancakes called “hotteok”, brown eggs, mozzerella cheese, frozen wontons, soju, grape tonic water, and a can of grapefruit sparkling wine.

Tonight for supper, I prepared one group of wontons in olive oil, and another in sesame oil. Then, I wilted the mystery greens in the leftover oil. I snacked on one square of American cheese, and tore and melted the other on half of the greens. I poured myself a bit of soju, and then decided it tastes like rubbing alcohol. I mixed it with the grape tonic, and that was much better. And for dessert, I heated up one hotteok cake, with a dollop of nutella on it.

This is what I’ve discovered:

  • Most desserts are better with Nutella smeared on top.
  • Soju is terrible, even with grape tonic water.
  • Grape tonic water, however, is the grown-up version of grape Kool-aid, and for about a tenth the calories. Don’t judge me.
  • Hotteok is delicious, and I don’t know why we don’t do this. It’s also about 1,000,000 calories. Or 450.
  • Greens are greens everywhere. They’re good wilted with good flavoring, and are great with cheese, but they’ll be better with bacon fat every damn day of the week.
  • Wontons are better pan fried in sesame oil.


Among the list of foods Korea gets right:

  • Corn pizza. Oh. Shit. Damn.
  • Steak and mushroom risotto.
  • Mango Yogurt
  • Canned lattes.
  • Coffee in general
  • Milk bubble teas.
  • Sparkling grapefruit wine, even if it’s clearly Korea’s version of a wine cooler. It’s amazing.
  • Fried pork chop, which can totally replace chicken fried steak.
  • Cold noodle soup
  • Earl grey ice cream
  • Frying an egg and putting it on top of most rice dishes.
  • Soups
  • It might even be better than American coleslaw.


The fish cake kind of weirds me out, and I don’t know what to have it with, but I’m starting to realize one of the best parts about being a grown up is that if I don’t like a food, I don’t have to keep eating it. I have no idea why I had to move overseas to realize if I don’t like a food, I don’t have to eat it, but I did. Hey, George Dubya had to become president before he got to put his foot down about broccoli, and while I don’t commend him for much, I do commend him for that. (Also, he’s not Donald Trump.) So in short, saurkraut and I will stay broken up. But cold noodle soup and I are so on.


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