Korea 2008 Day Six: Daejeon & Gyeryongsan

by Kara on October 13, 2008

Today I got to play a fun game on the subway called Squish. Here’s how you play: First, it is imperative that you ride the subway at the height of rush hour. Next, squeeze as many people as you possibly can onto one subway car, until there is no way you can fit even one more person on the car. Then, squish 20 more people in there! It’s like Twister, but with the added inability to breathe. At least Stephen and I are tall enough that our heads are above the crowd. I don’t know how some of these petite women in their high-heeled shoes manage. When the train driver would slam on the brakes, I had the weight of about 20 people falling on me, while trying to hold on to the bar.

Once we made it out of the subway alive, we got on the express train to Daejeon to see Stephen’s uncle. The seats are assigned on the train, and it was a thousand times nicer than the subway. Stephen’s Uncle Do Sun (the youngest of all Stephen’s Dad’s brothers) came to pick us up at the station. He told us that instead of going out for lunch, Stephen’s aunt wanted to make the lunch herself and she had been working on it for three days! It was a pretty amazing lunch too.

I am going to go into the boring details, because it was such a neat lunch. We started off with gujeolpan, called the Platter of Nine Delicacies in English. In the middle there is a pile of miniature crepes made with flour and water. Surrounding those are nine finely chopped ingredients. These can vary, but the ones we had were beef, thin strips of fried egg white, thin strips of fried egg yolk, mushrooms, abalone, octopus, pepper, ginseng, and another relative of ginseng. We placed a small amount of each ingredient on our crepes, then dribbled a little mustard sauce on there. It was really good! And yes, I had the platter of eight delicacies because I skipped the octopus.

Next, she brought out big plates of japchae, which is clear noodles mixed with beef and vegetables. There was also battered pan-fried fish, chicken and zucchini. Then she brought out mul kimchi (mul = water), which is just what it sounds like – kimchi in water. It had both cabbage and radish kimchi in it. It was spicy, but really tasty. Next was some sort of fish. I didn’t get the name, but it was the same fish that we saw selling in the grocery store for $100-200. Stephen’s Dad made sure to tell us many times that the fish cost $100 (and we had two of them). She also made galbijjim, which is braised marinated short ribs with vegetables. The meat was so tender it just fell off the bones.

Next were big bowls of “Chinese-style rice” and miyeokguk, which is a seaweed soup in a beef broth. We were already bursting at the seams, but she brought dessert right out. It was slices of apple and soemeoritteok, which looked like a rice krispie bar, but with actual cooked rice, spiced with cinnamon. It also had jujubes (Korean dates) and chestnuts in it. For the record, chestnuts are yucky, but luckily mine only had two. THEN she brought out a second dessert, which I think is called sujeonggwa – cinnamon punch with dried persimmon.

Buddhist monks follow the path through Gyeryongsan National Park in Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea.

Buddhist monks follow the path through Gyeryongsan National Park in Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea.

Now I know that sounds like a lot of food, and believe me, it was! But after lunch, we got in the car and engaged in the second most popular activity for Koreans (the first being eating), and we went walking. We went to Gyeryongsan National Park and walked to one of the four Buddhist temples in the park, Donghaksa. The temple was beautiful, as was the park. It also helped us walk of some of that gigantic lunch.

After that, they dropped us back at the train station and we headed home for dinner. When left in charge of meals at home, Stephen’s Dad gives us a little cup of plain yogurt and a bunch of sliced fresh fruit. Since we usually eat a pretty big lunch, this is perfect.

Stephen's Dad enjoys the beautiful Donghaksa Temple in Gyeryongsan National Park. Donghaksa is an institute for Buddhist nuns.

Stephen's Dad enjoys the beautiful Donghaksa Temple in Gyeryongsan National Park. Donghaksa is an institute for Buddhist nuns.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of South Korea.

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