Mike Map

View Mike Map in a larger map

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Bread and Butter

Alright, let's recommence with the food posts!

I will commence commencing by commenting that the food that American Airlines and Japan Airlines on the way back from LA was nothing short of atrocious. I think I would have preferred a ten dollar discount on each flight.

For example,

A salad made with about 90% iceberg lettuce and a few carrot shavings, and a main consisting of steamed carrots, cauliflower, beans, and white rice. No sauce, no nothin. I just mashed in the mini stick of butter and some of the salt and pepper. It was edible, but given how much effort it looks like the airlines are putting into their standard meals (e.g. personal pan pizzas!), I sort of felt like I got the short end of the stick.

Thankfully, the salad did come with a bit of dressing. A whole four-tenths of an ounce of it, inside of a glass bottle that itself probably weighed four ounces. Where is the sense in that? I realize it's ridiculous to complain about such minuscule details when the practice of flying itself is so environmentally rapacious, but come on. The plane is already loaded with bottles of cola, juice, tea, and so forth; why not have one for salad dressing, too?

A vegan cookie that pissed me off because the area of the section devoted to listing the ingredients was about 80% of the size of the cookie.

More ridiculous pita action. One with tomatoes and cucumbers, no sauce. One with...sliced kiwis and strips of red bell pepper? I felt like there was a kindergarten class in the back assembling my meals.

But enough with the griping! As soon as I got back home, things improved drastically. For instance,

Mixed black rice with kimchi, an awesome sweet-savory eggplant/zucchini/pepper side dish that Chris made for me, and braised* tofu and peppers in perilla powder.

Looks artsier this way.

Then, Monday afternoon, my CSA box came in. (I have been meaning to do a post about that business, by the way.)

And then, the crown jewel!

I haven't gone shopping yet, since I want to maintain fidelity to my favorite organic shops, which I only visit on Mondays while I'm out on other bidness. Thus, I've been mostly scrounging by at the school cafeteria, which on Wednesday night meant I ate only a bowl of seaweed soup. Everything else on the buffet was meatly.

A few hours after getting home, as my belly grew rumbly and I contemplated making popcorn (again, no fruit in the house yet), my doorbell rang. It was my neighbor Mathan. It bothers me that he prefers using the doorbell, which makes all sorts of noise and activates a peephole camera and takes about 2 seconds to turn itself of, rather than knocking, but I'm not going to let that come between me and authentic Tamil food.

I opened the door to find him holding a bowl, the contents of which were obscured by a tissue. Pushing it towards my face, Mathan told me that he and his wife Deepa had whipped a little something up and wanted me to try it. I sniffed through the paper, and despite not having had it in more than a year and a half, identified the smell of Poori in under a second!

Poori is a deep-fried south Indian bread. Oily, light, crispy, and usually served with a spicy, saucy potato dish - somehow the fatty crisps and the spicy mush complement each other just right.

Instead of potatoes, though:

Deep-fried tofu! Tough on the outside, creamy on the inside, permeated by a sauce that was so good I no longer remember what it tasted like.

In an effort to be a kind and gracious neighbor, I washed the bowl, headed over to Mathan's, invited myself in, and helped myself to thirds and fourths. Deeeee-licious.

Anyone else ever received surprise deliveries of amazing food? I'm thinking it should be a trend. I am thinking of exacting some very hummusy revenge on them in the next few days...

*also, expired. 10 days past the date. A little stinky, fetid even, but probably good for the digestion.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Idealism in action!

I realize I write much more about the theoretical aspects of teaching than about what actually goes on in my own classroom. There is something a little absurd in the out-there-ness of my beliefs about what education ought to look like, and the shenanigans that go on daily at my school.

Example 1, from a class of 13 nurses-in-training: After a getting-to-know-you interview game in which the students ask each other question's I've prepared, I split them into teams, asking each team to make up two questions for me.

Student 1: Why is your hair long?
Student 2: Why you come Korea?
Student 3: Out of all the students in this room, who has the prettiest face?

Example 2, from a class of 12 engineers in training: Same situation (yes, I do the same thing with each class.

Student 1: Where you come Korea?
Me: You mean "when?" When did I come to Korea?
Student 1: Yes, yes, when you come Korea?
Me: In 2006. About five years ago. First I lived in Chilgok for two years, then I went traveling. Then I came to YJ about two years ago.
Student 1: Ok.
Student 2: Where your first kiss?
Me: (only dirty thoughts)

Example 3: (Background: it's trendy to have weird or even nonsensical English written on your shirt. The trendiness and level of nonsense may even be proportional.) The following was written on one guy's shirt today.

alike all over the world

At first, I thought this was pretty bland. A bit of funny (if intentional) irony, in that the shirt points towards the uniformity of Korean shirt culture while at the same time entirely participating in it. Also interesting from an international perspective, as it made me reflect on how women in India have been slower than men to adopt western styles, and how even the Indian women I know here in Korea often wear saris around, though their husbands generally wear khakis and dress shirts.

Then, during an activity (running dictation, to be specific) in which the kids were all standing up and darting to and fro, I saw the back of the shirt:

they dress to be annoying to other men


Actually, though, I liked the shirt. It made me think and laugh much more than it annoyed me, which means it didn't serve its purpose. Self-aware and yet self-defeating. Iiiiiiinteresting....