petek, 09. marec 2012

Hardest Homework Ever

Few days ago Kyong Hee came to visit me with her husband. And a rice cooker. The fancy stuff, you know, the one that looks like a small space ship (if you're lucky) or some Giger's nightmare (if you're unlucky. I consider myself lucky. I was speechless, touched by their kindness... BAKA! Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!
"Thanks, I'm really grateful, " I said. " But you'll have to show me how to use this thing, I have no clue!"
"Well, that's something you'll have to figure out by yourself. It's all written on it. That's your homework for today." And they were gone.

In the evening I had a chat with Ramon and told him what happened.
# did you eventually figure out how to use it?
# well, i cleaned it and i think it can make a nice trinket in my room. i will stick to my happy time pressure cooker

To tell the truth, my Korean study is finally starting to be more interesting. I learned enough to have some grips. I found out that what all grammar books call just "special particles" are simple declension enclitics. OK, it lacks the vocative and ablative, but it has the comitative (which is really a conjunction added to the stem of a word, be it verb, adverb, adjective or noun). Not that this knowledge is of any help in my daily struggles with conversations, but I find it easier doing homework knowing exactly what I'm doing.
And I have some good laughs when I open my textbook and take a look at the drawings in it.

칡 is translated to English as "arrowroot". Wrong. Arrowroot is Maranta arundinacea, while what we dug, washed in icy streams and diced, is Pueraria lobata (and possibly other species in the genus Pueraria), by the common name kudzu. I posted a pic of its roots a few months ago.

It's not only a medicine used to mitigate hangovers, but also as a cure for alcoholism. I have troubles to believe that. I dug, washed and diced more than half a ton of it but I still enjoy my beer. The last few days were pretty much crazy. The first time, in January, we did something less than 200 kilos and froze our hands in the icy stream while washing the roots. The day after the washing we drive the roots to a place some 50 kilometers away to be sliced by machine and at home we finish by cutting them in small dices that go in the dryer for a couple of days.

When dry, we neatly pack them in 200g bags and sell them. Sounds nice, slice and dice. For something less than 200kg it took 10 hours to 5 people to cut it. The last two "contingents" were of 250kg each and 3 or 4 of us to cut. We actually needed two days for the last one and don't ask how many blisters I have on my hand.
Maybe the Spring really started. We go sub zero only one or two times a week. But I learned not to trust Korean Spring, I still remember the snow on April 12th.
I got a hint what to cultivate besides rutabaga on my fields: Sorghum bicolor and Zingiber officinale. Easy to sell.

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