Thursday, July 14, 2011

Korea: 2011 Summer Fellows: The "hottest" days in Korea

Today is "Boknal" which is translated as "the dog days" of summer. It is a period that lasts for about 2 and a half weeks in which it is supposed to be one the hottest days in the summer. Actually it seems like it is one of the coolest days in Korea. The rainy season started earlier this year in the middle of June. Normally the rainy season would occur during all of July. I learned in my Korean class that during "Boknal", Korean people eat a chicken soup dish called "Samgyetang". It is odd to eat such a hot soup during the summer, but because the soup contains alot of nutritious ingredients, it is supposed to give us more strength that is lost during the summer when we sweat. A whole chicken is stuffed with rice and has ingredients that include ginseng, ginger, garlic, jujube fruits and chestnuts. So I went with my classmates to go to a popular restaurant that served this dish right after class. There was such a huge line but we went through it really fast because supposedly the restaurant could hold about 500 people.

Another dish that is popular in the summer is called "Naengmyeon". I also learned in class that this dish was originated in the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang. It is a cold soup with buckwheat noodles and shaved ice inside. They sometimes put hot red pepper sauce in it. I wondered why I saw "Pyongyang Naengyeon" on the menu sometimes and now I realized the meaning behind it.

Our teacher last weekend invited our class to her home. Our first adventure was trying to find her apartment which was a little outside of Seoul. That day really felt like one of the hottest days in Korea. We found her apartment and we were greeted by her husband. We then met her kids. One of them was into his video games the whole time. It was fun speaking Korean to her kids. I could understand them perfectly well and they could understand me. One of the dishes that we learned how to make was kimchi. It is spicy cabbage with red pepper that is eaten with almost every meal in Korea. She told us how to chop the cabbage and spread salt on it so that it would become weak. We let it sit like that for an hour. We went through about 7 cabbages. When you bend the cabbage and it doesn't break, that's how you know that it's ready for the next step. She then told us to mix red pepper, fish sauce, tons of crushed garlic and radish along with the cabbage. Then it was done. We all took a little bit of kimchi home with us. My room will forever smell like garlic. We all had fun eating other Korean dishes that our teacher made and even sat through watching the latest Harry Potter movie. It was overall a great day spending time with my classmates and my teacher.

Susie Greenbaum
MA Speech and Language Pathology 2013
Sigur Center 2011 Korean Language Fellow
Sogang Unviersity, South Korea

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