Tuesday, October 29, 2013

And then there was one...

Last time I talked about wedding cars, and a few weeks ago I went to my friend's wedding, Eunji, and guess what? They had a wedding car! I liked that they went with red and not pink since that's what I see the most.

71. This takes me the next item on the list, Catholic weddings in Korea. Yes, I've written about weddings before, but that was the standard "wedding hall" wedding that feels as fake as my eye lashes on Halloween (I really don't mean to be rude, really, they just feel weird) . Anyways, I was raised Catholic, well Mexican Catholic, so it was surprising to see how 
different they are from Korean Catholic.

So what is different?

First of all, the mass was in Korean, so I was lost most of the time. I just followed people with the whole sit-down/stand up thing. 

A couple things that were not part of the wedding, which are huuuuuge in my culture, were the lasso and the arrhae (or unity coins). I didn't notice anything similar to symbolize the union either, I'm assuming it's because in the traditional Korean wedding there are lots of similar symbols, so they are not needed in the religious ceremony.

Eunji's traditional Korean wedding

This was also my first Korean Catholic mass, and one thing I noticed that was pretty interesting is that when we gave the sign of peace, instead of a handshake, it was a bow. Totally took me by surprise because I knew right away what the priest meant as people starting moving around, so as I turned to the person next to me, she bowed as I was about to extend my arm ...awkward! 

Another thing was that the priest busted out a song! He sang "My Way", which to be honest I (and other people) felt like it wasn't an appropriate song for a wedding in a church. Then also, two friends (?) of Eunji sang for the couple. I'm not sure whether this was just something for the couple or if it's normal to sing to a couple. I've never really witnessed this before (except here), it's actually a cool and sweet idea, I think. 


There was also no "you may kiss your bride," which is not necessarily Catholic, but still.

One interesting thing is that Koreans are given Catholic names when they are baptized, so Eunji's is Micaela and SeungJin's is Gregorio. Throughout the ceremony, the priest would alternate between the names.

Lastly, obviously since Mexican Catholicism is mixed with Aztec beliefs, there was no Virgen de la Guadalupe which means there was no ramo (offering) for her.

Everything else was pretty much the same.

72. Kimchi fridges
This whole wedding business leads me into the next item. A tradition Koreans have here for weddings is the groom (or maybe groom's parents?) buy the home for the new couple while the bride's parents buy the furniture and appliances. And one important appliance most Koreans have in their home is a kimchi fridge!

This is what they usually look like, smaller than the standard ones. And yes, a home will have a normal one and a kimchi one.

What is a kimchi fridge you ask? Exactly what it sounds like: a fridge for your kimchi. So why is it needed? I honestly don't know. The only thing I can speculate is that kimchi is stinky, it will stink the crap out of a fridge so a separate one is needed ...lesson learned, trust me, I don't buy kimchi anymore haha. 

I actually do have another guess: Kimchi requires fermentation, so maybe the fridge has a special setting that helps? Anybody can shed a light on this?

73. Dog shoes. Winter is coming. Puppies need to keep warm, thus ...

I'm also assuming these are used to that the doggies don't get their lil paws dirty when they take walks. I'm sooooo buying some for Bambino!

74. Letterman jackets. When we think of letterman jackets, we think of high school sports. But here in Korea, high schoolers don't have that culture; however,  they have adopted using letterman jackets, not for sports in high school, but for university students to represent their department. 

Here are some examples from the university where I work. One is from my students from the French Department and the other is from one of my students from the English Department. 

a de los Muertos is just around the corner, and I am ready! ...Hope my visitors don't scare the crap out of my neighbors. I still need to find some cempazuchitl (orange marigold), I know, but I can't buy it anywhere! ...I'm going to have to steal it from somewhere like I did last year. Funny thing, I haven't seen it in any flower shop, but lots of places have them on their pots outside their businesses.

I didn't want to end this entry on a sad note, but there is one last thing I want to mention, I am officially the last member of Team Amurrica remaining. Ana has left Korea (for now I hope), and she's safely back in Florida with family and friends ...and fooooood!!!! If you've read my blog, you probably noticed that most of my adventures were with her, what am I going to do now with out my FlaCa?!? (Florida + California = FlaCa lol). Who's going to drag me out on a hike? Who's going to come up with the random traveling ideas? Who's going to go on Taco Adventures with me? :(

Peace ya'll!

PS. I still need some cheering up so care packages, text messages, Skype calls, and such are greatly appreciated. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Julio: Better than Authentic ....um, NOT!

This is the first time I write a restaurant review only because this place was so bad that the world needs to know. I unfortunately do not have pictures of the food or place because I didn't think I'd be writing this, but some of the links below do have them.

I don't consider myself a "foodie" ...I don't eat out often because I'm vegetarian/pescetarian. I also like simple food, I could eat bean and cheese burritos for the rest of my life and I'd be happy (plus horchata hehe), so I don't get too excited about gourmet restaurants. I'm also horrible at buffets because I have a small stomach since I've conditioned it to have 4 small meals throughout the day. Anyways, my point is that maybe I am not 100% qualified to be writing restaurant reviews. But when it comes to Mexican cuisine, well, I do have strong opinions. 

Before anyone thinks that I'm being biased may be right, duh I'm Mexican, I KNOW Mexican food, I grew up eating it every day at home. However, I also do understand fusion cuisine. I actually have had all types of fusion cuisines: Mexican-Korean, Tex-Mex-Korean, French-Mexican, Italian-Mexican, and Americanized Mexican, and I have found some pretty decent stuff that I've found myself going back to every once in a while, so I am not bashing the restaurant for being fusion.

So here it goes...

I've tried many other "Mexican" places in Korea (fusion and non fusion), but I have to say that this place has been the worst. First of all, this place is advertised as "Better Than Authentic"...not even close to what I would call authentic even for Mexican food in Korea, and that's saying something. It really bothers me that it's obviously fusion cuisine, but they are using an utter lie as their tag phrase ...the shame!

We started with a gorgonzola quesadilla as an appetizer. When it arrived, I noticed it had some brown pieces of something  I right away thought it was chicken, but it turned out to be walnuts, wait wait wait, walnuts in a quesadilla? Ew! Plus it came with three dipping sauces one of which was honey. Again ew, big ew. I'm all for trying new things (french fries dipped in ice cream anyone?), but this was just plain nasty.

As my main dish, I ordered the paprika cream veggie enchiladas which was basically a dry Spanish rice burrito covered in an ok tasting sauce (who uses flour tortillas for enchiladas?). It came with a side of canned beans, yes I could tell they were canned! My friend ordered the kimchi fries which were the biggest disappointment of the night. And not because the fusion was bad, but because there was barely any kimchi! It tasted like chilli fries. Go figure it was the Korean side they messed up on. We even asked the waiter if they got the order correct because there was no kimchi in the kimchi fries and he said, "Yes, it's kimchi sauce" ...lies! We also had shrimp tacos which were not served until we reminded them about the order. Shrimp tacos are not rocket science, but I guess for their chefs it is because they were awful ...just a reminder people, the shrimp is supposed to be deep fried not soaked in some weird sauce ...grill them at least please. They did give us complementary chips and salsa for bringing the tacos late. But after a quesadilla, an enchilada, and half a taco, we were too full for them, a drink would've been better.

Now for the good things about the place. The highlight of the place were the drinks. We had the orange upside down Corona margarita, which for 10 bucks wasn't bad. Also, we had a nice table next to the window where we had a nice view of the Cheonggyecheon Stream.

The atmosphere of the place was very cold with American pop music in the background. Maybe I'm just used to Mexican restaurants having more of a cozy vibe to them.

To summarize  don't waste your money here. If you want Mexican-ish food, go to Dos Tacos which is on the same street; atmosphere and food are much better, not authentic, but good for whatever they are trying to do.

Funny thing by the way. I've looked up other reviews (review #1, review #2, review #3) about this restaurant and they all rave about it. Ugh! Someone needs to check their taste buds.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Made it to #70!

       I don't want to talk about sad things, so I don't even want to get started on the fact that summer is long over and winter is fast approaching. My first winter in Seoul ... no bueno. A good thing worth mentioning is that I made it to #70 on The List! Wow! Two years later. I probably should have more by now, but I haven't been a dedicated blogger. But that's ok, I'm happy with what I have now and can only hope it will keep getting longer. I remember I made a similar list when I was in Paris ...I think I only got to number 15 haha.

     Things in Korea are good. A bit quiet. It's almost midterm week at my university, and I'm barely getting used to being back to work. This summer two-month vacation seriously messed me up. I mean, I used to do this back when I was a student, but it was different. It's work now. I can't slack off. I can't procrastinate ...as much. I'm of course loving work don't get me wrong. I just have to be an adult ...

Anyways, as promised, here are a few more items which take my list all the way to #70! Enjoy!

66. Couple rings. I've talked about matching couple culture in Korea before, but here is something new: couple rings. I actually learned about these back in San Diego when I had two Korean friends who were a couple, boyfriend-girlfriend not married, but they wore matching rings on their left ring fingers. I asked them what it meant exactly, and they told me it was just a symbol that they were a couple. This was a little hard to understand to be honest because to me they were engagement rings. He put a ring on it, so they were engaged, end of story haha. But no, not really. First of all, when Koreans get engaged, the man does not actually put a ring on it ...hello guys! Where be the diamonds?
     What actually happens is that after a couple has been dating for 100 days, the guy (I think?) buys his-hers matching rings. The couple then just wears the rings to symbolize their relationship. I guess it could be similar to a promise ring but toned down.
     Couple rings aren't as glamourous as engagement rings. The ones I have seen are very simple, they are more like wedding bands. Sometimes they'll have some engravings, but nothing flashy. Cute, right?

67. Food brought at different times. This really bugs me sometimes especially if everybody sitting at the table gets their food first and I'm still waiting for mine. But then again, I don't mind when I get it first and everybody else has to wait, suckas!
       In the US when we go to a restaurant, the food is usually ALL brought at the same time. If that doesn't happen, people get angry, complain, and might get a free dessert out of it ...I know I do! But here in Korea, it's perfectly ok to get people's food at different times. I think I've waited up to like 10 minutes after the first plate was brought to the table. The only reasonable thing I can think of why this happens is because they don't want to leave food on the hot plate while the other food (which probably takes longer to cook) is being prepared.

68. Parents setting up their kids. Imagine you are single, how do you find dates? Don't worry my friend, your parents have your back and will find someone in no time! Seriously, your parents will find you dates ...or your pastor will, or your uncle/aunt, or a friend.
      Here it is all about networking, and if it's through parents, then so be it. In the US it's a little more common for friends to set you up with other friends, but here it's your parents who will find someone, or will at least try. People here go on blind dates all the time apparently. They are not always successful of course. Some of my students tell me horror stories about their blind dates and have pledged to never go on one ever again.
      It does make me curious about what kind of man my mom would set me up with ...ok, but not curious enough to have her actually do this.

69. Wedding cars. This isn't new to me, we have these in Mexico, but I was surprised to see this in Korea. Love it. So cheesy and tacky. My favorite thing is when it's a luxury car covered in tacky ribbons and flowers. LUV IT!
      I know in the US we sometimes decorate cars too for weddings, but they aren't even close to what I've seen in Korea.

70. Body scrubs. I finally did it! I was scrubbed from head to toe by an ajumma while I was completely naked and she was only wearing her undies. But let me tell you, best thing ever!
      Ana and I went to a jimjjilbang recently and decided to go all out and pay the extra 25,000won for a body scrub. So how does this go down? Well, like I've said before, when you go into these bath houses, there are absolutely no bathing suits, everybody is in their birthday suit, separated by sex of course. The ritual is to spend a couple hours in the baths, saunas, and then scrub your body. If you are feeling fancy, then you pay for someone else to scrub you down. The women who do this are very professional by the way.
      You lay on a massage table, again naked of course, and an ajumma gets to work. She will scrub every single corner of your body ...and yes, I do mean EVERY corner of your body, lady parts and all. They use a loofa that when you see it you think, "isn't this for washing dishes?" But trust me, they do wonders! The whole process took about 15 minutes, and boy oh boy, I could tell the exfoliation was a success because all this crap came out of my body ...ew! My skin is super soft now though, so um yes this is something I will be doing more often.

So that's it for now. I'll try to work harder so I can make it to #100!