Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another 'Meeting', A Different Duck

... this one of the Young-il first grade teachers. Mr Lee Gum-cheon told me about it at about 10 o'clock today, so I had to rearrange some things or else miss out on free food and alcohol.

As I mentioned yesterday (or tomorrow if you're reading down the page), I had no classes today, but had to come in just the same. I spent a part of the morning dozing off, until I was awakened by the principal knocking at my lonely office door, which is all the way down the corridor, the last left before the stairs.

"Come in!" I yelled, startled suddenly awake, brandishing the pen I was unconsciously grasping as if writing in the notebook open on my desk. "Come in!"

"Ah, Mister Cam-BRELL," he said upon entering. "How you like your new classroom?"

"Huh--wha--?" I said, dazed. "They finished?" It was 9:05 AM.

"Come see!"

Well, I did, only to find that the room was exactly as it had been when I arrived at 7:45, which meant the furniture mentioned in my last post had been unloaded and placed in the room, higgledy-piggledy, still wrapped in plastic. The computer gear was still boxed up.

Anyway, long story short, now that I was up, as it were, I made myself useful, and kind of grimy, by removing the plastic wrappers on all the desks and chairs. This was more arduous than it sounds. Somewhere in there, Mr Lee told me about the teacher meeting at 5:00; Mr Hwang came by as promised, and we went for galbitang; I ended up completing several errands and came back to school to find Miss Lee Cheong-hyun waiting for me outside my office--I was fifteen minutes early.

We went to a duck restaurant about a ten minute walk from the school, another Korean style place with floor seating, for a dish called something like garlic seasoned spicy grilled duck. I tried to memorize the Hangeul, but the computer won't let me type it, so obviously I got something wrong.

Anyway, the adjumma explained that this duck is fed garlic throughout its life so its meat will be infused with the flavor. It is then marinated in gochujang and cooked at your table with ddok, mushroom, potato slices, onion and herbs. In addition to the regular dishes of panchan, this is served with a bland vinegar-turnip kimchi soup, ice-cold.

After the meat is eaten (and it was really delicious), the adjumma then puts a bowl of leafy greens, rice, corn, chopped carrot and a handful of dried seaweed on the griddle where it soaks up the leftovers and fries up. Finally, a boiling bowl of jiggae is brought out, flavored with white pepper and leeks.

This is the third variety of duck I've had in Seoul; though it's hard to argue with the stuffed roast duck I had in December (or for that matter the table-grilled smoked duck in September), this may be the best so far. Still, Peking Duck in actual Peking has to top the duck list. Although, for duck shoes, I'll continue to go with LL Bean.

I hung back after many folks left to do a little drinking with Lee Gum-cheon, who was late due to playing soccer with his homeroom class. At about 8:30 we went down the road a little to a bar called Meka for 2nd course with about four other teachers, all young guys.

I'm not great with names, and I'm even worse with Korean names, so you'll just have to know there was a Mr Han, Mr Hyo, another Mr Lee and some other dude, who is a henpecked husband (with the Asian alcohol blush), who only stayed as long as he did because he dreaded going home to his wife. He agreed with this characterization.

We talked about Korean history, mainly, with Mr Lee translating, until the subject of makkuli came up. I am a well-known makkuli fan, as were two more of our congregation, so we moved on to 3rd round (w/o translator Lee) in a downstairs makkuli bar. Curiously, at this point, math teacher Mr Hyo, who had spoken about five words of English, seemed to become remarkably more proficient. While not up to the best Korean English teacher standard, he did just fine.

This is exactly what irks me about English here--everyone wants to speak the language, but no one wants to give it a try! As if one can miraculously absorb new linguistic structures like, say, articles, and suddenly master pronunciation of sounds completely absent from your native tongue.

Anyway, the 해물파전 haemul pajeon, or seafood pancake, at this place was even better than the one we get over in Bongcheon--loads of shrimp, not overcooked even though they were fried until the batter browned. The makkuli was good though not equal to that of the brewmaster of Bongcheon. And home before eleven!


Ladyslippers Plus 3 said...

Pictures, man...where are the pictures of the yummy sounding fooooood?

Tanner Brown said...

"...this one of the Young-il first grade teachers."

First grade teachers? So why were you going out with elementary school teachers? Hahahahaa!

And I think you got a grammar mistake in the last sentence.

Nice post. I want Korean food!

Tuttle said...

LP3: Yeah, I didn't know I was going to go so I didn't take my camera. Curses!

TB: I see several grammar mistakes, they'll be fixed soon. If you read the post, you should realize I was half-baked by the time I was writing!