Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Cake Day!

As much as anything, Christmas Eve seems to be an occasion for Koreans to eat really elaborate cakes. I passed by four bakeries today, and all of them had vast columns of cartons containing beautifully-decorated cakes stacked outside. In boxes, of course.

I had picked up a trial-run, dinky little 9,000 W cake at E-Mart's Day & Day bakery on the weekend, but it was nothing compared to these 20,000 to 40,000 W jobbies they had at Paris Baguette and Tous les Jours, the big bakery chains here. Actually, bakeries are good places for snacks and light meals here--they have sandwiches, mini-pizzas, hot dogs and the like as well as pastries and breads.

Before I get to my cake, I have to tell you about getting my new cell phone (Handu pon in Konglish). As I detailed previously, I was unable to get a new phone because my bank account was set up using my passport, rather than my alien registration. I said "because" there, since it's a subordinating conjunction, not because what followed provides a discernable reason. Welcome to Korea.

So. I spent my time between classes all morning at the bank (< 10 min. walk) fixing my account so it reflects my alien number. Done. To check it, I take out some money using my card (no problem) and update my passbook (also no problem). While I'm on the subject, your bank doesn't send you a monthly statement here--hell, they don't even have checks the way we think of them in the states. You take your passbook to the nearest ATM, insert it in the passbook slot opened to the active page, and the machine prints all your transactions and balances since the last update.

Anyway, after the day's fourth iteration of the Grinch (the last two with no coteacher, as Miss Cho was feeling poorly, so I told her to go home), I made my way back to the LG Telecom store bearing a note from Mr Hwang explaining that I still want exactly the set-up we were trying to get earlier. This time, it was smooth sailing, and I walked out of the store a happy, and connected, man. Turns out, I have the same model my blogger pal Andy just got, if not as good a deal.

A couple hours later, I'm buying groceries in E-Mart, including a steak, some really dirty spuds with which I plan to make mashed potatoes (they turned out great), salad stuff and a bottle of Kahlua (for afters). I get to the check-out, and my bank card won't work! Arrrgh!

Fortunately, since I was just at the bank--where the card worked perfectly well--I have barely enough cash to cover the tab. This had happened at E-Mart once before, an annoyance, but I let it go. E'en if I could communicate with the cashier and the shift supervisor, I doubt I could make much headway with them, anyway.

My next stop is the Tous les Jours in my building for a cake. After all, I'm here to immerse myself in the Korean experience. Well, that, and I like cake. I pick out this chocolate chiffon jobbie that looks pretty tasty. Guess what? The card doesn't work here, either--double Arrrgh!

Well, one door down from my building, past the Hi-Mart, is a "365 bank"--some banks have a room with a row of teller machines that's open 24/7. Lo and behold! I had no trouble at all using my card to withdraw money. Weird. Anyway, to bring this long story to its joyous conclusion, I had steak, salad and mashed potatoes for Christmas Eve dinner. Desert was a delicious chocolate reindeer-shaped cake iced with shell chocolate with an underlayer of buttercreme, and light mousse piping (see photo). Only 15,000 W, a relative cheapie.

Kahlua and coffee so I can stay awake, like every mother's child, to see if reindeer really know how to fly.

Reindeer choco cake from Tous les Jours--all such cakes seem to come with a plastic knife, a pack of candles and a couple matches
... although it's been said many times, many ways, Happy Cake Day to you!


chumpman said...

the cake is so nice! but its a pity to eat it though, too nice LOL

Adam said...

Wow, Korea's Christmas cakes kick Japan's Christmas cakes' asses.