Firstly, I know I owe a blog on the wonderful Miss Lucy Lou's visit, but it will have to wait until I get home and upload some pics from my camera.
So just to tide you over I thought I'd put in a quick blog about something that I frequently forget to tell people about until it's too late - my apple weirdness. Anyone who knows me well will know about this, and has probably judged me for it, just a little. As my friend Coco (Chanel) says, "don't judge!"
Ok, a rundown. I have a few weird neuroses. One of them is not having dirty feet anywhere near my bed (I have yelled at people before for getting onto my bed in shoes), another is about touching the edges of pages when I read a book (thankfully I've mostly gotten over this one - I just like to run my fingers up and down the page edges as I read a book, but when I was younger I used to have a kind of OCD compulsion to touch the corner edges of every single page I read... and I read a LOT), another is that I like rubbing things against my cheek to feel how soft they are rather than use my hands (something my friend Sam CM Shin also does!) and another, the biggest, is about eating apples. Don't get me wrong, I love love LOVE the taste of apples, and some of my fondest memories are of eating roast pork with apple sauce at my Nana Hart's house for Sunday dinners (it never tasted the same anywhere else), but the feeling of eating apples or anything else really crisp like that is enough to send shudders down my spine. In fact just thinking about it is making me feel a little goosebumpy as I type.
So as you can imagine, this is something of a problem, first in a family that enjoys apples (the crisper the better) and now also in a country of crisp crunchy apples and pears that also likes to sneakily hide them in fruit salads covered in cream. My second problem is telling people about the first problem, since they invariably think I am mad, and give me a "are you serious??" look, sometimes accompanied by either mocking or incredulous laughter. I usually try to warn people about it in a non-eating situation, or at least a non-apple-eating situation so that it seems slightly less crazy and also less like I'm just being picky about the food, but sometimes I forget, with various results. Like for instance a couple of years ago while on exchange, when everyone was sitting around in the dorm kitchenette eating snacks, and someone brought out a huge apple and crunched into it before I could say anything. I flinched, hastily tried to explain, and then promptly ran away. Needless to say, they all thought I was making a really stupid and obvious excuse to leave, simply because I didn't like them, or, as one person told me later, that I had diarhorrea and was rushing to the loo.
Which brings me to lunch today. My school lunches are pretty good. I'd give a consistent 7 - 10 out of 10 every time. Everything is recognisable, we get a good variety of food, and the fruit is always fresh. However, an increasingly regular sweet course are slices of Korean pears. Like the Japanese nashi, Korean pears are kind of a cross between pear and apple, so they have the usual pear taste but are very VERY crisp and crunchy. Normally I eat with one of my co-teachers, all of whom know about my apple thing (but kindly reserve judgement), so they don't comment when I only take one small piece of pear and cut it up with my spoon, which I also hate doing, and eat it by gingerly spooning it into my mouth and chewing it with my back teeth so that I don't have to spear it with a chopstick and feel it make that awful scraping sensation, and also so it doesn't grate against my front teeth. But as today was our last day of real school and all the kids got sent home early, the teachers were the only ones having lunch at school and people were eating a bit more leisurely. Since it was the last day, we had a treat and as well as the pear, were also given thick slices of persimmon (gam in Korean, or 감). I took a piece of each to be polite (you usually get harassed a little if you don't at least try a little of everything and then everyone talks about why you aren't eating it) and sat down between my co-teacher and a lovely admin lady named Ahn Dong-Mi who is awesome and despite speaking no English, did her best to chat to me whenever possible to keep me from being bored and to help me practice my Korean when we went on the school camping trip.
Everything was yummy as usual, and I did my usual discreet cutting and spooning when I got to the pear. However, having never eaten gam before, I wasn't sure what to expect, and after careful poking seemed to indicate it was pretty solid, I tried to cut into it with my spoon and of course it got stuck, so in I went with a chopstick to try and extricate it. Oops. Not good. I immediately flinched and shivered in my seat and put it down straight away. The teacher sitting across from me noticed immediately and mistaking my actions for typical foreigner slapstick, suggested I try just eating it off one chopstick.
I tried to explain why I didn't want to eat it (very badly) in Korean, and of course, once she'd figured out what I was trying to say, there was the usual incredulous look of "I can't decide which you are more of - a baby or an idiot" and then she said "you don't eat apples because they feel weird???" very loudly. Three of the teachers sitting on the other side of her heard and immediately began asking me about it and talking about how strange this was and discussing how young people's teeth are so bad these days because we eat too much sugar (none of them being over the age of 40 I'd say) and how foreigners seem to have a lot of dietary problems - there was nothing negative intended, it was just strange to them (let's face it, it's strange to everyone) and I was getting a tad embarrassed because I'm already a bit of a freak at the school for having a peanut allergy. Just when I was about to make my excuses and run away, the teacher sitting next to me piped up with "It's not strange, gam and apples have a unique texture when you eat them. My son doesn't like them either" and shut them up. If I wasn't so sure it would have freaked her out, I would have hugged her.
Ahn Dong-Mi, you are the best ^_^