Hello, Lindsay here, on the topic of food. Surprised?
It’s funny how we can live our whole lives without something, never knowing it existed and never caring if it did.
Today, I was enlightened to pumpkin soup, and my life will never be the same.
I know, dramatic much? But seriously, this is the best soup I have ever heaped spoonfuls of into my mouth.
Lunch at Songwon Elementary is always a pleasant surprise. Like picking up a strange book off a stray table in Barnes & Noble and falling in love after the first few pages. You’re never quite sure what it’s about at first glance. But after it’s over, you miss it when it’s gone.
I swear we have not had the same lunch twice yet at school. Okay, exaggeration. Maybe once or twice. But that’s all. And of course there are the staples like kimchi and rice, in which no meal is without. Every day we walk up the concrete steps to the drafty cold cafeteria with a sea of maroon-clad students bouncing off each other and us. The smells of Korean food always fills me with trepidation.
Will I like what they serve today? Will it be as good as that yellow curry from last month or the lettuce wraps from last week or the cream-covered vegetable and fruit salad?
Most days, it just keeps getting better. Of course, there are always the what-in-the-world-did-we-just-eat days, though they are few and far between. Things like unidentifiable brown meat (no, they do not serve dog), the Spam that has somehow made its way into the Korean diet, and a few unidentifiable vegetables loaded with enough spice to make anyone’s stomach scream uncle.
Most of the food here is amazing. And very “healthful” on top of it, at least that’s what Angel tells me every day. Otherwise known as Teacher No. 5 or, her real Korean name, Sun mi, she lets me in everyday on the healthy benefits of Korean food.
For example, the black bean milk we were given yesterday was really a treat. (The children here don’t drink milk at lunch, or any other liquid for that matter. Don’t ask.) So black bean milk, Angel explained, is good for keeping your hair black, keeping your complexion smooth, and for keeping the hair on your head and preventing baldness.
But today, not only was the pumpkin soup deliciously devine, but it’s also good for you. Very healthy, Angel informed us from across the table as I spooned the last drops of orange into my mouth. Pumpkin soup is often eaten by women who have just had children to lose weight quickly, she said.
I’m hoping it also works for women who have not just had children but a terrible craving for Dunkin Donuts and ice cream, the only two things in Korea that taste like home. I don’t notice a change yet. But I did carefully extract the recipe for the soup from the Korean teachers so I could try at least one more time.