Duck in Pumpkin and my first Pimm’s

For a few months now, I’ve been hearing about a magical fusion food in Korea: duck in pumpkin (호박오리, hobak ori).  I’d classify this dish as “gourmet Korean food,” considering you have to make reservations several hours in advance so they can prepare the dish.  The duck and pumpkin are smoked for several hours beforehand… it’s so good!! A friend of mine wrote all about this restaurant and dish on her food blog, My Big Bite of Life.  I recommend checking it out because it has a lot more information, including the restaurant phone number and a map.

Somehow I managed to make a reservation at 고야 for 5 people on the phone… entirely in Korean.  Might not seem like much but it was a big hurdle for me! They obviously understood because after walking to the restaurant, the hostess ushered us to a prepared table and started setting up the banchan.  The restaurant smelled divine and we couldn’t wait for ducky to arrive! The waitress could obviously sense our excitement because she quickly came back with the chef d’oeuvre.

Duck in Pumpkin at 고야 (Photo Credit: Ché of mybigbiteoflife.wordpress.com)

After finishing up every scrap of delicious duck, we went back to my place for some Pimm’s and lemonade! For those who don’t know, Pimm’s is a spicy, citrusy English liqueur.  Our friend Claire was desperately missing the stuff, and so she had a visiting friend bring it in his luggage! I think Pimm’s is mainly a summer drink, and it’s mixed with lemonade (which is really Sprite, but in England they call it lemonade…) and assorted fruits.  As far as I know, Pimm’s isn’t really available in America, so it was totally new to me.  It was certainly tasty!! All of the following photos are from the talented Emily Bell:

Preparing the fruits
Oranges, lemon, and cucumber
Claire creating the concoction…
Tada! Happy Pimm’s face!

Since it was Saturday night… we headed to my local makgeolli bar, 대포 3000.  The owner was quite taken with 5 foreigners in his bar and gave us two dishes on “service” – free! All in all… a pretty good Saturday night!

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Boryeong Mud Festival

Last weekend, I attended the Boryeong Mud Festival.  Held annually at Daecheon Beach, this festival attracts Koreans and foreigners alike in honor of one unusual item: mud.  All of the Boryeong (보령) mud is actually trucked in from nearby mudflats.  What started as a natural celebration of skin-softening mud has become a celebration of all things downright dirty.

Boryeong is about a 4 hour drive from Daegu

Early Saturday morning, 300 foreigners and I met at the Novotel to board six buses headed west.  About 4 hours later, we arrived in Boryeong.  Located on the West Coast of Korea, this normally quiet beach town was bustling with activity.  After checking into our Korean-style motel (a floor with some blankets), several of us headed towards the beach and festival.  The beach was lovely – it was nice to see the other coast for the first time.  The best way to describe the festival is simply one word: insanity.  Foreigners and Koreans were everywhere, completely covered in mud.  Music was blasting from every corner.  Mud pools, mud wrestling, mud slides, mud races, mud prison… as far as the eye could see.  Even colored mud for the artsy types.  And Korea wouldn’t be Korea without long lines for everything.  Even the nearby shops were covered with mud, complete with muddy footprints on the floor.

Cleaning up: the next day, festival workers started breaking everything down (Photo by Natalie Bester)

After wallowing in mud for a few hours, most people wanted to rinse off.  Luckily, the Yellow Sea was only a few yards away.  Some people waited in line for the showers, but most festival-goers went au naturel and plunged into the chilly water.  I have to admit, it was pretty satisfying to watch the mud disappear almost instantly.  A shower or two later, I was clean as I was going to get and grabbed dinner (gamjatang… yum) with some friends.  Later still, it started to pour and most people were driven inwards to one of three restaurants/bars.  After milling about for a few hours, we headed back to the motel and hung out below the deck, where I acquired over 100 mosquito bites (no exaggeration).  The next day, we grabbed lunch and headed home.  It felt like a long weekend, but it was a unique experience and I’m glad we did it.  It was strange being around so many foreigners in one place after about 4 months of being a racial minority.  In Boryeong it was reversed!

Dirty Daegookins
The Yellow Sea (West Sea to Koreans)
The photographers seemed pretty interested in us
Our group – hitting the beach one last time before boarding the buses

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Travel Updates

hanging out at I'm Ddeokbokki

It has been a long time since I last wrote! In lieu of a real post, take this bulleted summary of my life:

– This week, we changed schedules at our school.  Formerly, we worked 1:30-7:40, but now we work 3:00-9:50.  I teach middle schoolers as well as elementary, although they are much better behaved so I don’t really mind.  Our school is also starting its mini summer semester (July, August, part of September), and so we are focusing on conjugating different verbs in different tenses.  The goal is to get the students on board with using the right tense in a sentence – they mostly cannot do this yet, so hopefully by spending all summer on it they will be able to.  They are also on public school holiday, but still have to come to academy – poor kids! (And poor academy teachers!)

An example of what I mean: “Everyday, I go to school” versus “Everyday, I going to school” and things of that nature.

– This coming weekend, what seems like all of the foreigners in Korea will be descending on the Boryeong Mud Festival.  Boryeong, a beach city on the west coast of Korea, annually hosts a massive mud festival.  It was created to promote the cosmetic properties of mud from nearby mudflats, but now the festival is associated with revelry of the messiest kind.  We are leaving from Daegu with an organized trip and staying one night in Korean style lodging… a room with a floor.  Should make for an interesting experience.

– In two weeks, Andy and I will be spending our summer vacation in Thailand! Bangkok and the beaches on the west coast (Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta perhaps).

– We also just booked our Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) trip for late September/early October… Japan! Probably mainly the Kyoto area because transportation to Tokyo is crazy expensive.  Japan is notoriously the most expensive country in Asia and definitely one of the most expensive in the entire world… hopefully we’ll be able to save some money but I predict it will be the most costly trip of my life – still worth it though!
hanging out at I'm Ddeokbokki

– Also, I got a haircut.

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