29 March 2008

Dinner at "the 4500"

Yes... that is what you think it is... your eyes are not fooling you... Matt has donned a mustache for "Mustache March." And now it's been documented for posterity :) It's a pilot thing... no one really understands it. Just wait for "No-hair November" and the return of "Flat-top February"... the squadron is filled with a bunch of look-alike Top Gun extras. Hilarious.
Saturday night we ventured out to a place near our house- fondly called "the 4500" for the W4500 signs in the windows and posted on flags outside. The restaurant is very clean- seating is either at western style tables or traditional Korean tables where you are seated on the floor.

There are 4 categories of things on the menu- besides a picture of of a cow, pig, a grill and a bowl.
The menu is written in Hangul- with the exception of two items: "Ribs of Beef" and "Ribs of Pork". So... we ordered two orders of the beef ribs. The waiter turns on the grill embedded in the center of the table and starts bringing a parade of side dishes.

You can see the beef on the grill- cooked at our table, then cut up with scissors by our waiter. Evan reaching for the chilled, marinated bean sprouts. He just plucks off the yellow seed heads and discards the white roots. Each of us ordered a personal dish of rice (bop). On the right you can just see the edge of the pickled radish dish- pink radishes the size of turnips. Evan ate two of those. Also served as a side dish: pickled jalapenos, iceberg salad with "thousand island" dressing, chili paste, loose lettuce leaves, a chili/zucchini/tofu soup- spicy!, and KIMCHI!

In the foreground of this picture- lower left is a salad of julienned sweet white onion, red leaf lettuce, green onion stems and celery. It is served swimming in a rice vinegar dressing- very tasty. On the lower right is a sesame/fish stick/chili paste side dish... none of us ate that. Box on the left contains large spoons and chopsticks. Small dish was used for slivered raw garlic which we moved over to the grill to roast for a bit to take the edge off before we ate it. The empty black bowl is filled with 1 c. of a BOILING ox tail broth that is then topped with a whipped egg and green onion mixture. The egg mixture is cooked by the boiling broth and after 10 minutes is cooked to a quiche-like consistency. Evan ate the entire bowl... And here's what the second bowl looked like when it arrived: See video below.

The meat is eaten, wrapped in a lettuce leaf with a bit of chili paste, raw garlic, and a pinch of the salad greens and dressing. I add rice too, just to calm down the spices. The Koreans can fit and entire wad in their mouths- Matt and I have to take two bites to fit this pseudo-sushi roll in. It's quite tasty, very healthy, tons of fresh vegetables, and all the side dishes are "free" with the meal. They a constantly refilling everything. All side dishes are shared. Did I mention the entire meal cost $12... yes, $12. For all-you-can eat spicy veggies, salads, egg "quiche", and two strips of beef! Awesome!

28 March 2008


Yeah! We found a great playground on base. It is just behind the new housing tower that is opening this week. The steps and ladders are just the right size for Evan, and the slides are "not too scary. Just... maybe... a little bit."

The weather has warmed up into the 50's during the day- still chilly in the mornings! It is nice to have a new, clean playground for him to run around on... now, if only there were some kids who lived in the tower! Hopefully next week we'll be able to meet up with our friends, the Edgars- Charlie is just about 2, and Anna-Jane is due April 17th. We have a lot in common!

Evan's favorite slide is a tube slide with sunroofs cut down the top of it- I tried to take a picture but there was too much glare- So you'll have to enjoy the picture of the "wild little monkey" swinging from the ladder.

His favorite characters to assume are:

Gonzo- identified by running around and hitting things with wrapping paper tubes. "Gonzo's just hitting the O"... ah, maybe he's seen a few too many episodes of the Muppets! For those of us that are old enough, we all remember the part in the intro where Gonzo always screws up hitting the gong-like letter "O" of the "Muppet Show"

Miss Moppet- a kitten character from a Beatrix Potter story. Acts slightly mischievous, likes to hide behind the couch, and "wear a dress"... which is when "Miss Moppet" runs around naked and adorns himself with my 6' cloth measuring tape

Pororo- Evan runs around with arms outspread declaring "Pororo is an airplane." It stems from a penguin character on Korean cartoon. Check out this link to get an idea of what TV is like in Korea:


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27 March 2008

We've decided to put Evan in an all-Korean preschool- for his social development and language immersion and it grants me time to study everyday. The school is affiliated with a Presbyterian church about 1 mile from our house. There are kiddos from 2 to 6 in a preschool setting, and a kindergarten (they start public school at age eight) in the main church. "Age" is an interesting concept here... everyone has a birthday (Dec 9, 2005 for Evan), but age is measured by how many lunar new years you have experienced. So, Evan actually turned "one" in February, 2006... "two" in 2007, and now he's considered "three".

Monday was his first day, and was filled with lots of tears and screaming when he had to get on the bus (9:30), but he seemed in good, slightly confused spirits, when he got home (2:30). They pick him up and drop him off at our house in a modified mini-van that has a bunch of seats. Car seats do not exist in Korea... in private cars, the children climb around in the back seat, or a parent holds the infant.

The school provides a backpack for him (once he's not so distressed to see it, I'll take a picture of him with it on), a lunch box and soon, a new uniform for Mondays.

Today was a little better- we waited in the parking lot and there were no tears when he saw the van coming up the hill. He actually separated himself from me and didn't howl at the nice lady who rides with them in the back of the van. The last two days she's had to hold him because he's been too emotional to sit by himself. My conversations with the "van lady" consist of "Un-young-hasay-yo" (Hello) and smiling nervously as I hand her my screaming child. As far as I can tell, her English is as good as my Korean :)

We'll keep trying for the rest of the week- and I'll go in Friday to talk to the teachers to see how he's doing. Hopefully next week will bring less heartache for both of us!

It's hard to tell what actually goes on at school- partly because I'm not sure he understands what's going on (he is the only English speaker), and his emotions are probably exceeding his vocabulary at this point. I think all is well- he talks about blocks, beads and stickers. It seems the lunches are agreeing with him- "turkey" "rice" and "barley soup" for lunch today... not sure what it really was, but that's what he thought he ate!

16 March 2008

How far do you have to travel for good German food?

We had the opportunity to go out to lunch with our next door neighbors- Anna and John. We walked down to the main shopping strip and over to a little house- yes, a house- with a sign out front "Memories". It's a cute little wooden house with a porch- amidst alleyways, hotels, parking lots, vendors, high-rise apartments. Memories is run by a German chef and his Korean wife- they had a restaurant in Seoul, but rent became too high so they moved to Songtan. The Korean lady is the only waitress- so if there are too many people in the restaurant, she will just turn you away at the door because she doesn't want to fill any more tables. He hails from Germany an imports sausages, beer and mustard to fill his menu. Even authentic coasters from Munich (see pic)!! I ordered the Bratwurst, sauerkraut, and roasted potatoes- Evan ate an ENTIRE bratwurst and a couple potatoes. The sauerkraut was the best I've ever had- absolutely deee-lish! Or maybe that's just my crazy pregnancy taste buds talking...
Matt ordered a goulash stew- very tender and tasty with lots of paprika. His potatoes came mashed with bacon and butter... yum! If you ever feel like traveling to Korea for great German food, we know the place!