It's late and I'm too tired to think of a title

Now that I've surmounted the most important (or only important) (or only)hurdles in my life this year, I find myself with quite a bit more drinking/screed writing time on my hands. Which means I will be drinking and writing assorted screeds with a bit more redundancy, frequency, intensity and redundancy. And hijacking Freshman's mouthpiece to do it, because it's much more satisfying and enjoyable to fuck with someone else's shit than express yourself creatively on your own terms.

During a cooking related class last week, I asked the kids to tell me the words they knew related to cooking, and surprisingly, almost always got "Fuse" first. After my usual "Are you fucking with me, and if not, have you any idea what the hell you're even talking about?" first class on Monday three second pause, I realized that they meant what goes on in the kitchens of the Fusion restaurants.

Koreans, much like all Asians whose cultures don't consider weed and shrooms essential foodgroups, are bound by tradition in much the same way Hannibal Lecter was bound to that handcart. I once tried to get a smoothie consisting of more than one fruit form my local pizza shop. This took three weeks, multiple visits, offers of triple the regular smoothie price, and a small but crack team of interpreters assembled painstakingly from the best of the best of whichever of my dullard students happened to be hanging out on the corner when we rolled up. If you'd seen the counter girl's face right before she hit blend you'd have thought she was clinging to the underside of a bus doing 50.5 mph and I told her to cut the blue wire. "They're all blue wires!" So yea, a little hesitant to step out of the box.

Most traditional Korean restaurants have about three different dishes: Korean Barbeque, Soup, and BibimBap. Korean barbecue consists of giving you some raw meat which you put on a grill and cook yourself however you see fit, as long as it is one of the "proper" ways to cook food that you're fucking paying for. If that last bit seems confusing, don't worry, the ugliest old lady you've ever seen will be around to scold you, cut your meat for you, and pour Kimchi and meat grease all over the fried rice you were planning to eat. The soup is made by placing the entire, unboned, uncleaned and/or unscaled animal in a pot of water, maybe adding spices, and boiling. Bibimbap is a bowl of white rice with an egg, greens, carrots and spicy soybean paste on top that you mix together. Apparently "seasoning white rice" is considered cuisine, and the local state capital claims not only to serve better boiled white rice with toppings available off the shelf of your local grocery store than anyone else, but to be the birthplace of this dish, which is sort of like claiming you invented buttered bread and then resting on your laurels for two millenia.

So essentially we're dealing with a culture with a less of a clue than the British how to make food taste like it, and the mercurial mental nimbleness of a three legged rhino. But they do have one thing working in their favor, an almost achingly pathetic desire to be American, from hoodies for little girls with English phrases like "Today is Dutch Payday" or "Love Sluts. Enhance Your Life" plastered on them, to a love bordering on worship for such luminaries as Paris Hilton and Triple H. Enter the Fusion Restaurant

Korea's lousy with these places which serve you Kimchi Pizza or funky milk soup or some other abomination which, I guess I would take over some of the straight-up Korean stuff that's been put in front of me so far. I used to hate these joints, but now I think they're a vital part of Korea learning to embrace "strong flavors" (ask Mike). Kids today grow up eating Kimchi Pizza, while their crotchety (literally the only kind of old lady out here) grandmothers look the other way, because at least the young'uns are still eating Kimchi on everydamnthing! And in ten years, once the old folks are safely in the ground, the country can take another baby step, such as taking the bones and intestines out of whatever they eat before they eat it. And so on until the peninsula's rehabilitated enough to reenter gastronomic society.

Fusion restaurants - Food Methadone. Think about it.

1 Responses to “It's late and I'm too tired to think of a title”

  1. # Blogger Stephanie

    Hello. I found your blog through my friend's facebook page and thought it would be relevant to read as I am hoping to teach english in Korea next year. I was shocked to find a picture of Lee Yong Soo halmoni on this entry and thought perhaps you were writing an article related to comfort women. First of all you are entitled to your own opinion about Korean food and I'm not going to touch that topic, but I wondered if you knew the reason the woman in this picture is crying. She was a survivor of sexual slavery, imprisoned by the Japanese military during World War II. This picture was taken during the testimony against the government in hopes that the U.S. would pass a resolution calling upon Japan to make a formal apology to the victims. It is a resolution that I spent much time and effort working to see it pass, and I have also spent time with this woman who is very dear to my heart. I call her halmoni, which you might know, means grandmother. I hope that you didn't know the context of the picture and that you would not be so insensitive to use in your tirade against Korean cuisine.  

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