Thursday, December 2, 2010

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death-nut-less nasi goreng
First of all, sorry for the long silence between posts. Just to reasssure those of you at home - I have not been nuked to death or forced to flee south ahead of the advancing North Korean forces or been shot and left lying and mangled in a ditch somewhere as American forces rationalise collateral damage. I will be home soon but not because of the DPRK's little temper tantrums - last time I was here they were testing the range of their nuclear weapons by firing them into the East Sea and I was in Seoul, so I am more than ok hiding away in Cheongju. It's kind of like Canberra in that respect, but with even LESS political and strategic importance.

my partner in cholesterol crime, Lara, eating her beef fajita
So what have I been up to be so niggardly in my updates? Well to be honest I don't really remember - things have kind of been a blur as the year rolls to a close like a giant cartoon snowball. One thing I can say is that this has been a big food week. Yesterday was some sort of Northeastern (I think) Chinese lamb shish kebabs, roast potatoes and roast eggplant at a place in Chungdae, and Tuesday was a Korean side-dishes cooking day (I'll do a post later about recipes etc), and Monday was a pretty good Nasi Goreng at Noritas downtown that was delicious but so spicy it made me sweat a little. Oh and I also felt bad because they had to remake it for me without peanuts, but seriously, who puts peanuts in nasi goreng???

family photo from our Japan trip in Takayama
And of course there is one important day that I can never forget - November 29th. So here I would like to say a proper (i.e. published!) and big Happy Special Day to my mum, dad, sister and the rest of my much-loved family. For those of you not in the K-Club posse, what our families call our Special Days, or Australia Days or our Gotcha Days are the anniversaries of the days that we were adopted and for most of us, came with our parents (and in my case with my little-sister-to-be) to Australia for the first time. So it's a very special day that reminds us all more than any other of how lucky we are to have been brought together. I love you all very much! ♥

And the day is always doubly special for me, because it also usually co-incides with the release of my favorite author's newest book :D But lately Terry Pratchett's been getting a bit ahead of himself, so mum and dad had already sent it to me and I'd already read it (many times over!). Luckily, Stephen Fry proved a great alternative and his wordy honesty and self-deprecating wit made me feel a little less sad that I was so far away from home on that particular day. At the moment, I'm trying to pace myself with it so that I have something to read during exams while I desk-warm, so I've only allowed myself to get about halfway through in the two weeks that I've had it now. Those of you who know me will know how hard that's been for me!
Wine - the perfect appetiser ^__^

But being in Korea with a lot of American friends, it also happened to co-incide (more or less) with American Thanksgiving!  Apparently this is different from Canadian Thanksgiving (which makes sense if you ever felt like thinking about it) but the one thing both of these days had in common was that they united Canadians and Americans in their almost zombie-like en-masse craving for turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. So off we went to Suji's in Itaewon in Seoul and spent the evening hassling the cute waiter there to show us his tattoos and severely embarrassing him in the process. Don't worry - he got a good tip out of it :)

And then on Sunday, we came back to Cheongju and went to the Outback Steakhouse (as close to something 'Straaaaaylian as I could get, even if it was Faux-stralian) and ate our body-weights in steak and chocolate brownies with ice-cream. DELICIOUS!

lamb yum-ness!
Apart from the food, the rest of the week has been busy but uneventful... until today. Continuing in the Australian theme of things, today I was due to start a chapter in the textbook (made by Americans) on Australia with my 2nd year conversation class, so I'd promised to bring them some Australian food. Yep, you guessed it - this meant vegemite. MMMMMMM ^_^ But seeing as it is the week before exams, some of them didn't turn up - two of the boys told me that they also had exams at their hagwon (학원 or tutoring academy) this week so they couldn't come, although their friends ratted on them and said that they'd actually "run away" to go to a PC bang (internet cafe) to play computer games. But really surprisingly, NONE of the usually committed girls turned up. Since they form 8 out of the 13 regular students in my class, and two of the boys had already bailed, this meant we had a VERY small class. In fact, only two boys came - Paul and Wilson. Wilson then called up one the other boy Seokju and made him come (I think he felt a mix of scared and bad for me which is sweet). I bet he regretted coming by the time class was over! Paul and Wilson are great students, but Seokju is HILARIOUS, and a bit cheeky, so he's not shy about saying weird stuff to make everyone laugh. Basically, he loves to milk a situation for all its comic worth. Anyway, we had a riot going through homework because I encourage them to be competitive and give them sticker points for correct answers to extra questions I ask them. Consequently, when they try to say (or shout) the answer first, it's not always right, and when it is they love to rub it in each other's faces. Seokju was in his element with no girls around to be shy for and on a roll, despite not having done his homework, and declared himself a "lucky guy".

But then we tried the vegemite. As everyone knows, Vegemite is quite overpowering when you eat it by itself, so I'd brought crackers and some butter that had melted a little because of how hot the classroom was by the time we got around to eating it. The boys were not impressed by the smell, but were game enough to try a Vegemite-cracker sandwich each with some butter and didn't mind it. After this, there was a bit left in the jar. So, of course, they wanted to play a game of rock, paper, scissors, ending with the loser eating ALL of the rest of the Vegemite heaped onto one cracker, no butter and no second layer. You can guess who lost. Poor Seokju. There was seriously about a tablespoon of pure Vegemite on that tiny little cracker. He tried to be brave - he really did - and ate half of it in one bite. The facial contortions he then went through were priceless - I really regret not taking my camera with me to class! He must have done agony, disgust, betrayal, despair, heartbreak and every other dramatic emotion he could express. He even tried bargaining with us all to make us eat it instead. Needless to say, we all laughed our butts off and refused ^_^ Since there were a few crackers left, by the time he'd nibbled his way down to a tiny corner with a huge chunk of Vegemite still left on it, I made another one with about half a teaspoon of semi-melted butter on it, and said he could eat it with that to dilute the Vegemite. Unable to force himself, he then tried bargaining again, and we all felt sorry enough for him to agree that we'd play again, and the loser had to eat the butter-Vegemite pile. It got down to Paul and Seokju. Fourvery tense rounds of calling the same thing later, we finally had a loser .... Seokju.

And then, the cherry on the terrible Seokju cake he'd made himself. He asked for candy to take away the taste of all the butter and Vegemite, but I only had 2 in my pocket so they rock paper scissored for it and... yeah, you guessed it. Seokju lost O_O

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