Do you want to hear about my first Korean meal?



I got off the bus that brought me from the airport to this city called "Suwon", my new home for the next year, collected my baggage (I have a lot of baggage), and sat on a bench to wait for a Korean woman whom I had seen but once during a skype interview some months previously. She was to collect me and my bags. I was worried that I would not recognise her from my memory of her (I didn't) and I was worried that she wouldn't find me, the only foreigner seated outside of the ticket office.

"I didn't think you'd be this tall", one of the first things out of the mouth of my new colleague - I am about 164cm (or 5.3 ft) - A short car ride later, a flower festooned pen welcome gift and an elevator up to the 1st floor, and I was "home". A tiny flat just a 3 min walk away from my new workplace. I was left to gorge on the sandwiches in the fridge and pass out on the bed with instructions to be at work 2 hours early the next day to meet the boss, my new co-workers and eat lunch together.

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Styrofoam boxes, elastic-banded shut, tinfoil peeping out the sides, sat on the table. A black plastic bag, from which appeared chopsticks and oblong tin-foiled packages. Little white tubs with dark liquid, alongside small plastic bags with yellow slices of half moons, were placed at intervals on the table. The smell of something deep fried permeated the room. What was for lunch? I had no expectations, I was ready to be surprised.

Mandu, ordered via the telephone is packaged up in Styrofoam boxes, and is kind of the Korean dim sum or dumpling. Little pouches that are steamed or deep fried, and either stuffed with 'gogi' - pork - or kimchi, (possibly the most important food in the whole of Korea, North and South, since they eat it with almost, practically everything.) Out of the black plastic bag came kimbap, or gimbap, sometimes referred to as Korean 'sushi'. Danmooji, the little half moons of pickled daikon radish, eaten as a side dish is another common staple to Korean meals and inside the little tubs, vinegar and soy sauce mixed together for mandu dipping.

And then the chopsticks, always chopsticks.
Even when it's your birthday and there's cake.
Welcome to Korea, Austen. Here, have a second third helping.


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