It seems like just yesterday I was starving, eating a measly peanut butter and jelly just to get through the day. And here I am, stuffed on galbi for the second night in a row. :) Deeeeelicious.
More about galbi.
First off, it involves a massive pit of red-hot coals that fit into the center of the table. Oh, did I mention you're SITTING ON THE FLOOR WITH YOUR BARE LEGS NO MORE THAN 12 INCHES AWAY?! (That's right, inches, none of this centimeter crap.) So anyway, over the coals goes a mesh piece that looks like a splatter guard except the metal is further apart so that the fat (mmmm delicious fat) can drip through and flare up the flames. It comes in strips about 3 1/2 inches wide and a foot long, and the minimum order is 3 or 4 depending on the restaurant. At this particular place, if you bought 4 you got one free, which is an advantage when you plan on ordering 7 for a table of 4 people.
In addition to this marinated pork, they bring out an array of side dishes that typically depend on the restaurant. What all galbi I've had has in common is this spring onion salad (seasoned with kimchi spices, yum), kimchi (duh), onions marinating in the same sauce as the meat, leaves of lettuce (yes, like the samgyeopsal), cloves of garlic cut in half, and a red bean paste that I can't even compare to anything back home. In addition, tonight we had this weird scrambled egg that is kind of watery like soup but I got in trouble for calling it soupy, a soup that comes out BOILING it's so hot, and green beans, corn, shrimp (with heads on, ick), and something else whose name I can't remember.
So the huge strips are put over the fire pit of doom, in addition to oh let's say, a whole head of garlic. It is cooked in these long strips, then you are in charge of manipulating tongs and scissors to get it cut into manageable bites that you ensnare with the metal chopsticks of doom and drop into the onion & sauce mix to cool. While it cools, you assemble red bean paste, deeeelicious garlic, onions, and whatever you want on the leaf of lettuce (it's more like something from a baby field green bag than iceberg), and like with the samgyeopsal, shove the whole thing in your mouth. It's sweet. It's pungent. And I wake up smelling like galbi and smoke.
This morning I seriously lay in bed just smelling myself.
The entire experience really is amazing, and with beer, soju, sodas, and etc., my tab has never been above $9. (Unfortunately, I'm the only one capable of dividing by numbers other than 10, so often times we don't actually know how much we owe, just that we had a fantastic time.)
As I walked the 3 blocks home, I smiled because I feel so satisfied with my last two nights. I went out with friends, laughed and drank, and it didn't have to be a special occasion. It was more like, hey, we have to order at least 3 strips, you want to come make a deal out of it? What churns through my head, now, is I wonder how I was able to go home after work every single day and just play a computer game all night, just to get up to face work again, and come home and play a computer game all night. The tediousness let alone the loneliness (when I lived by myself) makes me pause, but the sadness forces me to actually take a close look.
I must have been practically bleeding internally with emotional pain, and I praise the Lord for the progress that has been made. I thank Him and my parents that I was able to take a year leaving under a safe roof, recovering, and becoming a vibrant, interesting person again.
Tomorrow night I'll be going out with the Korean teachers dancing, and I leave way early Saturday morning for Seoul so this might be it for a while. My camera, though, is ready to go to make news of my trip interesting and colorful!
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