One of the things I like most about travelling with Erica and Dylan is that we will easily go from having high tea at the Peninsula Hotel to eating absurdly hot indian food at Chuanking mansion, a well known hangout of mobsters, tricksters, peddlers of contraband, hookers and Indian restaurateurs. The Peninsula-well, the opening to Diamonds are Forever was filmed there, and the tea trade took roots in its lobby.
My last day in Seoul was fun and void of stomach-crunching food. Lunch that day was a Korean version of shabu-shabu, consisting of thinly sliced beef tossed one by one into a rapidly boiling broth and flash cooking it, then eating it with a ball of rice inside a lettuce wrap. Unlike Western tradition, where stuffing one's mouth with large bites to eat is considered rude, I was subtly corrected in my eating when I tried to bite through it and told I should just stuff the whole thing into my mouth. (Won't be the last time I hear that one!).
Korea: <i>Ah! Vous dirais-je maman, ce qui cause mon tourment</i> Korean passive turns to French active
It seems that this whole week has been about food. Well, it's hard not to let a whole week be about food when so much about life in Seoul seems to revolve around eating and its traditions, customs, history and processes. Thursday continued the pattern. Lunch was at a Japanese restaurant where Gracious Host offered me a particular spicy fish soup mentioning it would have been a good cure for my post-sam-cha morning the day before.
Tuesday night's dinner would continue the intestinal distress. The VP of the first group I was training takes all the people who work in the group out for dinner maybe once a month--a tradition that I hear is fairly common in the large Korean companies. Jang had said, with a smirk, that he'd be interested in hearing how I handled it.
Korea: Won't my real duodenum please stand up? Half of these foods' critics can't even stomach it...
I thought that with crab eggs and the one-week diet of kimchi-laden everything I would have had enough fodder for a whole encyclopedia of painful eating experiences, but that was before Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Week 2.