( Famous Dumpling House near the Royal Palace)
My stay in Seoul feels like my great Aunt Mary is back and I’m staying at her house. Everything revolves around a meal. What are we having for dinner? What did I eat last night? Where shall we eat this weekend? Who shall join us for a bite? She showed me love through food.
Apparently, they got the same message here. Eating is a big deal to Koreans. Meals are taken seriously. While I was out with a friend and her Aunt, we shopped all night from 9pm-1:30 am (it was a dream). They stopped for dinner… I kept shopping. My friend’s Aunt was horrified. But I had just eaten the sandwich and salad she’d brought us a couple of hours prior. Another dinner? Really? Yes, apparently what she’d brought us was just a “snack”.
Here are a few “party favor” takeaways to remember when eating foreign food:
Veggie Sides: Lettuce salad, a Waldorf-like salad with apples, mayonnaise and raisins, all the sample-size accompaniments ( kimchi, broccoli, a sweet potato-like veggie, cabbage)
#1. When in doubt…eat vegetarian. A mystery meat is scary and even if you’re a die-hard carnivore you can’talways be sure what part of the animal you’re actually eating.
Cold Spicy Noodles
Pizza- always served with pickles in Korea. This one has a double crust with sweet potatoes and gourmet cheese, topped with cheese and pineapple. The tomato sauce was a“Westernized” request. Surprise- they have a lot of Italian restaurants around too.
#2. Be wary of food stands. They look delicious but don’t have any real health standards or guarantee of freshness. A friend once ate a snowcone at a little stand in Ecuador and literally thought he was going to die.
( Korean BBQ is a specialty. There are a couple varieties- all with quality beef)
#3. Look around at what other people are eating. There’s nothing wrong with pointing and saying ” I’ll take that”. The regulars know what’s best. It’s a simple, easy approach that elimnates surprises when the food arrives.
( Pork Cutlets… seen everywhere. Some thick, some thin. This one served with a sauce)
#4. Keep it moving ! Don’t bombard you’re system with lots of new and heavy foods all at once. ( At night I actually have a cup of Organic Smooth Move tea that I bring from home. It’s a natural Roto-rooter.) TMI… I know. But it works.
So savor the moment!