Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Meaning Behind the Food Items in Korean Post-Wedding Traditions

The first time I saw dates and chestnuts being thrown into the Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) skirt, was when my older cousin got married (like twenty something years ago). He and his then new bride just came back from their honeymoon and stopped by our house to do their formal bow greetings to my parents. The newlyweds usually go around doing this to all of the adults in the family. After they bowed, I saw my mom throwing a handful of stuff at them, more specifically directed at her. I remember thinking…wtf? Is my mom pissed off about something? Does she not like this new addition to the family? And right after the throw session, the words that followed indicated what it was really about. She said something in the likes of telling them to have a wonderful life and bear beautiful sons and daughters.

This is when I learned of what the dates and the chestnuts symbolized, -fertility/ fruitfulness/continuing the circle of life! The dates represent daughters and the chestnuts, sons. The new bride is supposed to catch as many as she can. And each one she catches is what is believed to be what she will conceive. Customarily, the bride and groom are supposed to eat their catching that night. Interesting shit, right? Oh and that cousin ended up having one son and one daughter, both teenagers now. It just seems like only yesterday when their only existence was in the hope and future that the dates and chestnuts represented. But I think my parents alone threw at least several at the time, and who knows how many the other elders threw. According to their catch, they should have had several kids at least. And who has that many kids nowadays anyway?
Fast forward a couple of decades later and my parents are throwing dates and chestnuts at their own children, my brother and new sister in law. Maybe our generation is a little more Americanized than they were. The new bride and groom did not visit the grown ups wearing Hanboks. Instead, my mom gave my sister in law a towel to catch them in lol. Well, I wasn’t able to be there to watch. But that is what I heard.

And then, there is the ebaji eumsik (eumsik means “food” in Korean). It is the gift of food that the bride’s family presents to the new in laws, a gesture of asking them to take good care of their daughter.

There were several boxes of items that were included in the ebaji eumsik. Dduk (rice cakes) is a common item that is presented. My parents received a couple of boxes of colorful assorted dduks.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Yei San Jip -serving alcohol 24/7

Korean joints seem to be notorious for serving alcohol after hours. Ktown seems to be the place to go if searching for places to drink after 2a.m. I haven’t been to any of these illegally operating establishments since I was way younger. I don’t even stay out late these days. Even midnight is considered late for this old lady. But recently, I had a night of drinking until the sun came up.

Arrived at bar #1 around 9pm, had a few cocktails, stayed there until midnight or so; moved onto bar #2 for some Korean food and soju. Naturally, we were kicked out by 2am. It was either head over to Ktown or Rowland Heights for more drinking, after hours. RH was picked mainly because of the distance.
I have been to Yei San Jip a couple of times to eat at odd hours of the night when I was younger. It seems to be one of those places you just end up at because of the operating hours and of course the alcohol availability around the clock. I doubt I would ever actually come to this place at regular hours, when are so many other available options.

It DID feel a bit weird even being there at 3-4 in the morning. I mean, I am a grown up, not some 20 year old college kid running the streets ‘til the crack of dawn. What kind of responsible grown up goes to a bar after operating hours to drink illegally? It felt…naughty. It made me feel young and old at the same time. And of course, it wasn’t surprising to find the crowd to be made of mostly young kids. And there was this one table of a drunken man and a seemingly sober woman in their 50’s. The man got so pissed and yelled at the woman because she paid the bill.
“How dare you? I am not having that! You can’t do that!” is what he yelled at her in Korean. The guy was furious. Drunken people are amusing to watch sometimes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March Madness

I can’t believe we have already entered daylight savings time of 2015. It so feels like the year had just begun yesterday and everyone was busy making New Year’s resolutions. How many of them have we broken so far?

A lot has been happening in the past months. Time flies by too fast and it feels like I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do. It's already March....March meaning wedding season, springtime allergies, and plenty of bees buzzing.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently got stung by a bee for the first time in my life. If you have never been stung by a bee, it stings and hurts like a mofo! I was just sitting in my car at work minding my business. I stretched my arm to suddenly feel a sharp pain shooting up and down my arm. At first, I thought it was a bad spasm or something. And then suddenly I hear a bee buzzing and flying out of my car. Then I knew I had just been stung. Fucking bee! I hope he died after he stung me.

Since I had never been stung before, I never had any idea if I was allergic or not. But after the initial sting, it was okay…a little sore but not too bad. I showed my sting to a coworker, S. She is one of those people that are deathly allergic to bees that she even carries the shots around with her.
“Oh my gosh, you still have the stinger hanging from you!” she pointed out. I was still in trauma mode that I thought it was a piece of my skin hanging off from the puncture.

As deathly allergic as S is to bees’ venom, she courageously put on a pair of latex gloves and removed it from my arm.
“If I have a reaction or die, it’s going to be YOUR fault,” she said. Lol but how brave and heroic of her…

It is a Korean thing to apply dwenjang (soy bean paste) to a bee sting.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Banana bread, Wallbanger, Inspiration, and Zucchini bread

A couple of weeks ago, I ended up making banana bread. I had some butter and banana that were about to get old, so I had to get rid of them. As usual, I browned the butter. There is just no other way to do banana bread.

I ate a couple and gave the rest to Brian, whom I know from way back when (the days when we did some work together). The banana bread tasted yum right out of the oven, fresh and warm.

With the remaining batter, I used in muffin tins to make banana bread muffin thingys.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy National Cheese Lovers' Day, writer's block, and the foodie Taurus

Happy National Cheese Lovers’ Day! Yeah, they seem to have a national day for everything. I LOVE cheese! I miss it dearly. At my last job, I used to be able to munch on various cheeses and toasted baguettes all night long. That is one thing I miss about that place. Well, going through many hungry busy nights, bread (primarily baguettes) was one of the things readily available to munch to fuel me until the end of service. Bread and butter, and the occasional cheese instead of butter! Cheese selections changed throughout the years and special menus. I don’t even remember all of the names, except for maybe the ones I really liked or the ones we served regularly. I usually prefer soft and creamy cheese over the harder ones. Remember this one? Lol that was yummy cheese.

We have also had some not so yummy cheeses. I remember Cantal being one of them. We only served it once. But I remember the name because it was like one of the most bleh cheeses I’ve had.

The last place was French, so yeah….not surprising that cheese was a big thing there. I remember the servers always coming by and begging for cheese like hungry rats. Each had their favorites. They’d get so excited when you gave them a piece of cheese. Well, they got excited if you gave them anything to eat or munch on, period. 

The cheese platters came with various accompaniments included fruit/nut bread, nuts, brined or dried fruits, quince paste, preserves, and whatever else was available or in the mood for at the time. When I dined there once, it was when cheese platters were served with the cheeses from specified animals. So you were able to choose from goat, sheep, and cow. I got the cow one. It wasn’t the same….munching on cheese while I work vs. sitting down, paying for, and eating the same thing all nicely plated. It just felt….different. It's weird, but I much preferred munching on cheese directly from the walk-in. Sitting down, leisurely being able to enjoy the cheese all nicely plated just seemed too weird.