I feel a sense of wellbeing that I’d forgotten feeling. Sure, I’m exhausted from walking up and down hills, sunburned because everything you put on, you sweat right off in the humidity. And… no that’s about it! I’m really happy here. It’s a lot more like South Africa than America is. A big part of what I’m loving wasn’t familiar – the food.
Kimbap! This, believe it or not, is breakfast. The roll has sushi rice, veggies, flat slices of fried egg, and pickles. Sounds weird? I adore it. This was the breakfast our hosts from Dongseo University’s film department gave us every morning in the bus on the way to the film set.
I think part of the reason I am so happy eating here is that I love, love, love rice. I may also secretly adore MSG, which is in everything, and glutin, which is in everything too. Our team’s producer is gluten-intolerant and has been struggling. The Koreans have never heard of this problem and think she’s just a very fussy eater. Poor girl.
This pig wants you to eat her.
Although I eat pescatarian in the USA, mostly, I have abandoned that here as have all other veggies on our crew. It would deprive me of almost everything as pork is used a lot in cooking and flavoring the food. Koreans have a friendly and humorous relationship with the animals they eat. The pigs are excited to die. The fish are displayed in tanks outside restaurants. They’re alive, and you can pick out what you want. Talk about “fresh”…
The little picture of the pig and the cow means that those are their specialties. The animals have dialog: “We taste good!”
Wait… I think (I hope) that this isn’t a restaurant. Mostly because I’ve heard cats taste terrible. As far as I’m concerned, either all animals are food, or none are. In my opinion, cows and pigs are just as loveable as dogs and cats.
It’s wonderful to get away from the franchise culture that’s making American eating less and less interesting by the day. The fear of eating anything that might cause stomach issues means many people won’t eat somewhere that doesn’t have an “A” health rating. My feeling is they probably just eat too much for their body to process. I eat everywhere (I’m currently working my way through the mexican hole-in-the-walls on Tustin street, with the goal of trying them all). And I am fine, I swear. Here, small, cheap eateries become famous for their food and will be busy all day until they closing time.
KFC? This is actually a regular Korean restaurant; just the branding is definitely a reference. I don’t miss that kind of food, at all (not that I ate it in the USA). Or hosts graciously gave us deep fried breaded chicken for dinner one night, to give us a break from rice. It seemed tasteless and poisonous by comparison to the food we’ve been enjoying.
If the person in the picture above the door and the person in the doorway look similar, it’s because they’re the same person! This is fairly common in Korea. I find it really charming. We actually ate next door, where the owner / cook was about 80 and had bright purple hair.
This place specialises in late night octopus stir fries. We hit it after set one night. Yummy. The cinnamon tea was the nightlight for me though. It’s made with cinnamon, sugar, and honey. Boiled. Cooled with chunks of ice. Helps takes the heat off the spicy red bean sauce you stir into your meal.
Celebrities cash in on their fame by lending their picture to food joints. This is a rare thing: a franchise. The lady in the photo is a well known actress. Korea has a thriving national cinema. The government encourages it and protects it from American encroachment. It’s really inspiring – and the movies are great.
Unless you’re getting take-out, the food is served in china or metal bowls, and you’re provided metal chopsticks (in one fancy place, silver!) and a spoon to eat with, as well as jugs of water and small cups about the size of American shotglasses. I love it and it’s a great relief after the wastefulness of American eateries. I feel excited and blessed and renewed by Busan. It’s most similar (for me) to Antananarivo in Madagascar, just much bigger and very high-tech. I could live here – I really, really could.
PS: I’ll add more pictures of cool restaurant signs in the next few days. I have to leave now to go on a mystery trip to a mountain.