A shout out to food and family

Whit here:

In case any of you are counting at home, Lindsay and I ended our blogging streak yesterday. We had been faithfully blogging everyday for about a month until my turn came up on Wednesday, September 19th. I extend my sincere apologies to those who logged on to “Kimchi and Cornbread” to find no new news. Your day must have been ruined. Allow me to explain.

Wednesday is our short day at school, so there is really no excuse. I came home yesterday and took to the trails near the house barely dragging one sore leg in front of the other on my daily run. I cursed the voice inside my head that said I could play soccer again as my knees buckled under my own weight. But then I returned home to find that my new soccer club lined up a game this Sunday the nearby village of Hwasun. Because many of the other guys will be out of town this weekend and I suffer from amnesia, I donated my body to the team. Wish me luck.

Then almost immediately we met friends from our Korean class for a vegetarian meal just up the road from our house. It was nice to not eat meat, get to know our new English and Austrailian friends and learn more about Korea from these two who have lived here for a year. I also did some research for another blog, “Bill’s Beverage Review: 2,” by finally sampling soju. Soju is also known as Korean vodka and a favorite drink of many Koreans. But to keep you on the edge of your seat I will save my review for a later date.

The English buddy is also one of my football teammates, but he is missing the game. Like many people in the country, he and his girlfriend are heading out of town. They are ferrying down to Jejudo this weekend to take in the rays of this supposedly beautiful island. It is here where the tourbooks say that many Korean couples dress alike on their honeymoons. Until Tuesday when Lindsay and I wore matching gingham, I doubt the picnic blanket pattern had made a name for itself. But who knows maybe it will be all over the country Monday. I’ll let you know.

Nevertheless, many Koreans are leaving town this weekend to celebrate Chuseok. Which roughly translates as Korean Thanksgiving. From what I have learned from my students Chuseok is the time of year where families get together eat tons, give thanks to their ancestors and to a bountiful autumn harvest. Lucky for us we get Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off. Eat your heart out America.

I got my kids to explain Chuseok to me this week. “Teacher, go to grave and bow,” explained one kid while another said “time where we thank great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather.” Some just cut to the chase, “Songpyeon,” many have said referring to a sweet treat(picture on the right). This is a rice cake stuffed with chestnuts and sugar and steamed over pine needles.
If any of you out there are teachers here, I have found that asking Koreans about their traditions is the best way to get them talking. I have kids who have never talked trying their hardest to explain Chuseok to me so I can understand. I had another class tell me how to make Songpyeon. They stongly debating the finer points of the dish. Through drawings, gestures, words and some diplomacy we figured each other out. I love how much they want me to know about this holiday.

But the funniest moment this week came when after we discussed Chuseok I asked my class how their weekend had been.

“Bad weekend,” one girl said, “my grandfather killed my dog.”

“Oh,” I said, “Did he hit it with a car?”

“No,” she said gesturing that he had punched it in the heart.

“Why?” I asked clearly confused.

“I don’t know,” she said stone-faced.

Was grandpa preparing for a Chuseok feast? Don’t know, but Lindsay and I will probably go vegetarian this weekend.

Have a great Chuseok!