...are ridiculously slippery! I should have been practicing weeks, if not months, ago. Of course I've used chopsticks before and thought I was reasonably adept with them. But it had been a while and I had never encountered stainless steel. Of course Aaron, who has spent several weeks in Korea in the last year, seemed to have no problems, while I struggled and dropped things and just failed to get anything into my mouth.
Korean dinners involve about a thousand different little dishes covering the entire table. Everyone just reaches across for what they want. That means that whatever you've grabbed has to hover in midair while traveling across other dishes, other people's drinks and bowls before it ever reaches your own territory. It's intimidating! The first dinner I had was with Aaron's colleagues- five Korean men, one German, Aaron and me, the only female. Of course I wanted to make a good impression and seem cultured and worldly. But alas my neighbor at the table saw me fighting the dreaded chopstick cross-over and asked the waitress to bring forks. So discouraging! But then it was a matter of pride so I refused the fork and continued my efforts. Eventually I got full. Or maybe I just got tired of trying, I can't really remember which came first.
The food was good but I couldn't tell you what most of it was. There were so many different things, literally dozens of bowls. I saw some tentacles with little suckers all along one side so I'm pretty sure it was a squid or octopus. I ate it because it was easy to pick up and it tasted fine, just a little chewy. We had a bowl of little crunchy dried fishes. They tasted fishy. A lot of the food was spicy, I mean really spicy, and it was mostly seafood, vegetables and noodles. Every Korean meal I ate contained kim chi, which must qualify it as the national dish. Kim chi is fermented vegetables flavored with red pepper paste and fermented fish paste (or something like that). There are many variations but it was absolutely essential, so much so that the Air France meals of chicken and noodles were accompanied by kim chi. The Koreans have to have it.
As much as we enjoyed our meals of traditional Korean food, we could not eat it for every meal. But big cities have good food of all kinds so we tried a great Thai restaurant and had some delicious Chinese food. We even went to Kraze Burger, which was a pretty good representation of an American burger joint. We went to an Italian place for lunch one day and a French bakery another day. So we ate well, which in my mind is one of the best aspects of traveling.
I'll sign off for now but I have lots more to tell about my Asian adventure. Meanwhile, I'm going to practice eating oatmeal with chopsticks- next time I will be ready!