Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Happy Loolah New Year!

Lunar.  Ruler.  Loolah.  All sounds the same here!!  Anyway yesterday was Lunar New Year.  It's a big celebration here, the equivalent of our Christmas I suppose.  It's all about spending time with family and giving gifts.  The gifts seem to be one of three things: money, especially given from older relatives to younger ones; a toiletries hamper, which generally includes toothpaste and toilet roll; or a spam hamper! Yup, spam!  Apparently spam became something of a luxury item here during the war, it was only available if it had been smuggled or leaked from the US Army.  As a result, i suppose it has a bit of an exotic buzz to it.  Either way, at the moment its everywhere...in the corner shops, in the super markets, people walking down the street have big boxes of it...madness!  Happy New Year to ya Son, have some Spam why don't you?!!

Anyway as I said, New Year was actually yesterday.  We'd been told that shops etc would all be closed but we didn't really think about how/what we'd eat.  I suppose we did have our spam if things got desperate, and in the end they almost did.  There must be the guts of twenty restaurants on the little side street we live on so we were sure there'd be something open.  We were prepared to be beggars, not choosers.  Nothing was open.  Great!  So we started to walk towards Dunsan Dong, a pretty big commercial area about a fifteen minute stroll from where we live in Wolpeong Dong, in the hope we'd find somewhere open there.  We did thank god, the idea of a spam sandwich wasn't really doin' it for me I have to tell ya!  We had dakgalbi which a chicken and cabbage dish with lots of spicy sauce, garlic, onions, cheese, rice cakes and some other unidentifiable ingredients (to me at least!) all cooked up on a big flat pan at your table.

We'd had it once before.  On our first night in Daejeon, Susan and Stephen took us for some and I remember not being all that fussed with it.  Yesterday however, I thought it was the business!  Our taste buds must have altered in some way to let us start appreciating the food more fully here.  Either that or the thought of a spam sandwich had made my tastebuds unusually receptive!

When we'd eaten a fair chunk of the meal, a waitress came and asked us if we'd like rice.  Not really sure what kind of rice she meant, she'd been motioning to the pan, we said yes.  Out came some rice, some dried seaweed type stuff, some more hot sauce and some seasame seeds, and it all got tossed into the pan and mixed up with the rest of it! Yum!

It was strange to see the streets so quiet yesterday but I suppose a foreigner living in Ireland would say the same thing on Christmas Day.  There wasn't a whole lot to do, what with everything being shut down, so after our meal we rolled home, got into our jammies and watched a movie.  What else would you do on a day off work sure?!

Calm, Quiet Day in Daejeon 

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