My taste buds have slowly been changing as I’ve grown accustomed to the typical fare of the ROK.
At first I had a hard time identifying the flavors of what I was consuming. Everything seemed to waver between bland and SPICY. Luckily that phase has ended and now I’m realizing to what a surprising degree Koreans love their sweets. (Or at least the children.)
My first hint that I was missing out on all the sweetness came when I asked students to describe their favorite food. It was a good exercise in descriptive writing for them and an easy way to learn about local cuisine for me. (I’m so sneaky!) About half the class decided to tell me about bulgogi and how “sweet” the barbecued beef was when it reached the perfect stage of golden deliciousness.
Bulgogi? Sweet? I thought and left it at that. Then a few weeks later I sat down to yet another bulgogi dinner and realized. “Hey! This meat is sweet.” It’s not sweet exactly the way I’m used to sweet, but it’s definitely sweet.
My next clue for sweet was the coffee situation. Seriously load up on the cream and sugar then add some whipped cream to your next cup o’ joe that’s likely what you’ll find without careful searching in the land of morning calm.
As for the sweets themselves, my students love all kinds of candy. Only once have I heard them complain of sweets being too sweet. An artificial cherry flavored candy that I’m guessing tasted like dimetapp was dispensed as being too “sweet” and “soft” to eat.
Ice cream also comes in abundance and at ridiculously low prices. My favorite ice creams are the coffee ice cream bag and the walnut watermelon ice cream balls. It’s a walnut ice cream inside a watermelon flavored rice dough ball rolled in powdered sugar. Sounds weird, but it is deliciously sweet.
The chocolate situation is equally sweet although low in quality. My students love, love chocolate. It’s probably the number one requested sweet treat. Unfortunately Korean chocolate is of such chalky flavorless quality that America’s Hershey bar tastes great by comparison. Needless to say, chocolate is at the top of my “Food to indulge in immediately” list when I head home.
All this sweet talk has me starved, I’m headed out for bulgogi.