Saturday, April 2, 2011

Only Lunch Can Break Your Heart - Day Five

Today's lunch was a fitting end to the week, a wide range of flavours and textures, from the absolutely revolting to the almost okay. As usual, here's a pic:

Helpfully, this lunch was divided left to right. The stuff on the right was borderline edible, and at times nearly enjoyable, while the left side was just awful. 

Today's best thing was the soup. It's made with a dried soy bean paste that gives it a rich, slightly nutty flavour. It's a bit like miso, only rougher and more substantial and with chunks of soy bean in the bottom. The soup has cubes of tofu and slices of zucchini in it, as well as some spring onion. I really like the soy bean paste, particularly in dwaenjeon jigae, a stew of tofu, veges, potato and sometimes seafood cooked in the soy bean broth. This soup is nowhere near that good, with it's small selection of overcooked veges, but it's a welcome change from farty chicken broth.

Above the soup are two vegetable dishes.   

On the left is our old friend cabbage kimchi. I think we must've finished the old barrel because this stuff is fresher and crisper and much more like food. Beside that is a dish made from cucumber slices and a strange variant of red pepper paste that I haven't encountered before. It's oily and smells less than fresh. This concoction also has another vege mixed in that I can't even begin to identify. It's crispy but it doesn't really have a taste.
Okay, so there's a bulb-shaped bit, and what I hope are roots coming out of it. I suspect it's one of the throw-away parts of another vegetable, but who really knows?
Overall, I'll let the cucumber thing go, it's raw veges and that's amazing enough on it's own. It doesn't need to taste good, and not all the ingredients need to be real food, for me to be impressed. 

I can't quite face the red mess in the top left just yet, so let's do the rice. It's got red beans it. Yes, those revolting things they use to flavour desserts. I actually used to like red bean, but Korea has made me hate it. Apart from it being in everything, it's just not appropriate in rice, and it ruined the only part of school lunch that I can normally depend on to be edible.

Okay, I've done everything else. Here's the thing in the top. I'm calling it that not to build suspense but because I genuinely don't know what to call it. The main ingredient is either chicken or fish. I'm really not sure. It also contains white lumps that look like potato but taste more like parsnip. The carrots, I'm pretty sure, are carrots.

As for the red sludge it's all cooked in, it looks a bit like a tomato-y sauce, but really isn't. I'm not sure what's making it red because there's no tomatoes in it, and not enough chilli for that much colour. It tastes oily and salty and most of all, dirty. Like it's a mixture of chilli and dirt. I don't even know. The first time we had it I thought it was chicken casserole, but when I tasted it I felt violated. I've tried it again since then, just in case I got a bad batch the first time, but it was the same. I've been avoiding it for months but had to have some today so I could write about it. When I ate it today, my whole body felt clammy and squirmy, I think out of sympathy for my poor taste buds. Just thinking about it now is making me want to vomit all over my desk. 

That's the end of the week of lunch blogs. More interesting topics to come in the future. Before I go, heres today's Random Korean Insanity, a bike pump from the dollar store here in Buan.

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