Friday, November 15, 2013

Korean school lunches

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 15.]

As I wrote on Monday, soon after I started working here in rural South Korea I thought it would be fun to take pictures of my school lunch some week.  I didn't want to carry around my digital camera, so subconsciously I decided to wait until I had a cell phone.  This happened in October, but since it's a Korean phone, I cannot turn off or mute the shutter sound when I take a picture.  It's a loud attention-grabbing sound!  I was not looking forward to this kind of attention nor needing to explain why I was photographing my lunch five days in a row, so I didn't make it a top priority.  Plus, I had 47 more weeks -- there was no rush.

Then last week Sally, an EFL teacher here in South Korea who blogs at A Breath of Foreign Air, posted an iPhone Photoessay: A Week of School Lunches.  Some encouragement from her in the comments and on twitter had me tweeting a photo of my lunch every day this week.  Below I will share all five pictures.  I don't know the proper names of everything, so my descriptions/guesses will have to do.  Do know that it all smells and tastes amazing!


Top left: Radish kimchi
Top middle: Rice cakes with meat (This is a favorite side dish of mine; reminds me of goulash)
Top right: Cucumber kimchi
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Beef and seaweed -- soo good
Fruit/dessert: Pineapple


Top left: Kimchi
Top middle: Seasoned, cooked leaves (of some sort).  You pick one up with your chopsticks (the leaves are thin), put it by the rice, pick up some meat, put in in the leaf and wrap it up, bring the wrap to your mouth and eat.
Top right: Delicious meat (beef?).  Warm, juicy, seasoned pile of amazing goodness.
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Tofu and... I can't remember what else was in this one!
Fruit/dessert: Clementines


Note: This is the first day in two and a half months that there was no kimchi on our trays!  The top right is cabbage of some sort, but I don't think it was fermented, and it definitely had no seasoning.
Top left: Apple pastries -- these were warm and heavenly!
Top middle: Chili pepper paste for the bibimbap
Top right: Cabbage
Rice: Bibimbap - A common Korean dish is bibimbap.  It's a mix of vegetables, meat, and rice.  You spoon in some chili pepper paste and mix it all together.  Photo was taken pre-mix, so the white rice is covering up all the vegetables and meat.  Really yummy.
Soup: That's egg in there.  Hot and delicious!
Fruit/dessert: Fruit yogurt drink


Top left: Kimchi
Top middle: I don't know what this is.  I tell myself it's eggplant when I eat it, but part of me is afraid it's some type of mushroom.  Any ideas? The picture's not the greatest, I know.  Sorry!
Top right: Kind of like a pot roast - lots of meat and a few potatoes. Yum.
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Rice noodles.  Again, hot and delicious
Fruit/dessert: Kiwi (three halves)


Top left: Kimchi
Top middle: Egg with various things inside.  I've had this at least once before and I like it.  It's way easy to break up with chopsticks, it slides down easily, it's hot, and tastes good.
Top right: Spicy spaghetti noodles with various vegetables. That's not spaghetti sauce -- it has a distinct flavor and was served cold.
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Lobster and shrimp inside
Fruit/dessert: Those three balls were the dessert.  I don't know what they're called, and I don't know what the filling was made of.  I'm no Korean food expert!


You'll see a spoon and chopsticks in each picture.  We use the spoon for the soup, and the chopsticks for everything else.  Every now and then there are a few side dishes where it's okay to use the spoon (we ate the bibimbap on Wednesday with our spoons, we eat kiwi with spoons), but usually it's chopsticks.  I'm comfortable now using them with most foods (BBQ chicken is still somewhat difficult though), and I eat with them at home too.  It's fun!

Okay, writing this post has already got me craving lunch on Monday...
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  1. Awesomeness, Rebe! The dessert from Friday looks like those walnut red bean snacks that are super delicious. You can get them at highway rest stops all around the Korea (and other places). Also, egg drop soup? Deliciousness.

    1. Ah, so that's red bean inside -- thanks! Is there also walnut inside, or does that come from its shape?