sobota, 26. november 2011

The Lousy Spy

Have I told already that Korea is the land of magic? Miracles happen all the time. The last was my miracolous healing, unbelieveable.
After the wedding I started to feel really bad, I tought I've caught some nasty fever because I was shivering all the time. I was freezing and I felt comfortable only in my hot bed. It went on for two days then in the morning of the third day I saw little Guryun playing with something shiny in the yard. It was a big piece of ice. Ice? Where from? You really don't know? It's already three days we're getting way sub zero! I instantly decided to stop wearing sandals, India style hippy trousers and T shirts and to put on some decent warm clothes. A miracle! I was healed in a second, I felt absolutely no cold! It's a land of wonders, I tell you!
Now, about the title. It's me, I am the lousy spy. I was discovered to be a North Korean spy when we were making ginger tea. Kyong Hee spotted me immediately. While everybody was picking the ginger at a slow, comfortable pace, I rushed through the field like I learned when picking radish. Then she assumed that the communist former Yugoslavia had strong ties with N Korea and all the rest was obvious. I had no other choice but to admit everything (only later I found out that the real NK spy is Sungbae, you know, Tiger, but that's another story).
Two days ago we were planning the study schedule with Eun Shil, my teacher, and she mentioned that on saturday she's going to be very busy making kimchi. Now I know how enlightenment must look like. Of course I offered my help, I always help her to thank her for her time and effort in teaching. Only this time it was with a more selfish motivation. To see the way she is making it. To find out if she uses any secret ingredients or techniques. Informations are power. I was sure it will be like with the heating systems, every master of a trade has his secrets.
So this morning I merrily fed the cows, hens and dogs, skipped breakfast, took my camera and was ready for the mission "Kimchi". In front of her house the cabbage, cut in halves, was rinsing. She uses a different way to make it tender, not like the one I know from Gangwon-do or that you find in every web recipe for making kimchi. But before we started I had to make some Italian coffee and over the cups we engaged a technical discussion on kimchi making. When she started talking about the "sauce" or the "filling" or call it whatever you want, I almost fainted. It was all already done. Some ingredients were made months ago. Yesterday she cooked another few.

Ehm... so what are we gonna do today? How what, we'll be making kimchi today!
And so it was. Fill the cabbages, put them in the big clay jars outside and before lunch we were done. Maybe it's childish but I was sort of proud when she left me for making lunch to work unsupervised. We had some freshly made kimchi with lunch and I took some home. It tastes... like a fairy tale. I really love it fresh but I was advised to eat it as fast as possible, it will remain deliciously tasty for one or two days more, then it will become unedible for the next few months when it will be finally ripe and delicious again.

I didn't learn any great secret but eventually I found out how Korean cabbage looks like. I mean the real, the really Korean one. Today we used three varieties of cabbage. Two were the sort of the now popular and known in the west as the napa cabbage or, more commonly, Chinese cabbage. In a way I understand why this name is pissing of Koreans. They don't care that the scientific name is Rapa pekinensis (= from Beijing) and they swear that it's Korean cabbage. sadly they don't even know how the real Korean cabbage looks like. At first I didn't want to believe it's cabbage, it actually looked more like leaves of raddish or some huge dandelion leaves. That one we didn't taste yet. I can't wait till it will be ready!

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