Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Have Some Rice

1) Today was the first day of classes, and it went pretty well--the new crop seem responsive, and they enjoyed my intro lesson. Which admittedly is a killer, the one where I tell them I'm as smart as Einstein, as funny as Jim Carrey, as kind as Mother Teresa, etc. They then have to write and read aloud similes about themselves.

The second grade does a different lesson, since they had that one last year, based on an article about how knowing English increases your chances at love in Korea--I wrote about it here. But the interesting thing was that one of my classes has only 23 students. Usually there are 35 to 40 in a class. The co-teacher explained to me that this was a special section made up of very talented art students--a couple of composers, some actors, musicians and painters. Very cool.

2) Sometime after lunch, a dude came by with a plastic bag labeled 영어실--at first I thought some student had the nerve to get his lunch delivered, then I realized it said yeong-eo shil, English room. Inside was the following:

Now, what that is is a selection of 떡 ddeok, which are rice flour cakes, and a drink called 식혜 shik hye, a sweet rice concoction, which is quite tasty until you get to the little chunks of actual rice (or sometimes pine nuts) in the bottom.

When Koreans celebrate they like to share rice around; the ideal celebratory meal would consist of rice-flavored rice in rice sauce, with rice on the side. I'm sure this dates back to the time when rice, and food in general, was hard to come by. In fact, a common greeting among older people is 식사했어요 shiksahaeteoyo, meaning: Have you eaten yet?

Anyway, I wondered what was being celebrated, remembering I get an enzyme-laced health drink whenever a colleague buys a new car, and some ddeok when someone buys a house. Turns out, this was a gift from a teacher I don't even know on the occasion of his son's, who I don't even know, wedding. They have some delightful traditions here.


Foreigner Joy said...

That explains it!

조안나 said...

But the one time I was asked if I had eaten by a stranger, I think he was legit curious whether or not I had eaten.. He was fascinated to find out that I in fact ate some Kimchi jjigae for lunch...

Mo said...

I've had ddeok before, you're right they are pretty tasty!