Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nothing Beats Home Cooking! (Part II)

So not even 24 hours later, my family went back to Hanguk for another "home cooked" Korean meal at my request!!! My family is so nice! They know how much I miss Korean food!

This time, my family was joined by my grandpa, my cousin and his wife!

I had dweiji bulgogi (spicy pork):

Here is my cousin, Pat, enjoying his Japchae!!

If you couldn't tell he's adopted...

In our family we say that he and his older brother and younger sister are adopted. This is because in our family, there are 4 adopted Korean grandkids, and 3 biologic grandkids. So the adopted Korean grandkids outnumber the biological kids. So its our inside joke that totally confuses everyone when we explain that the white kids are the "adopted" grandkids in our We are definitely not concerned about being Politically

My cousin is married to Megan (pronounced Mee - gan, NOT Meh-gan!!!) who also joined us for lunch. She had bulgogi, but I won't show the picture I took of her eating. My cousin Pat and I have no dignity when it comes to food. Megan is much higher class than Pat or I so I'll spare her photo. She does enjoy bulgogi, but I don't think we have her converted on kimchi yet. You would be proud of Pat, he can put away kimchi with the best of Koreans!

Nothing Beats Home Cooking!

My parents don't cook much Korean food. About the only things we make at home are rice and bulgogi. Although bulgogi was usually with me involved, so I don't think they cook it much when I am not around. Of course thats my point of view, I could be wrong....

Even though my parents didn't cook Korean food while I was growing up, they did always make sure that I had a good supply of rice and kimchee. I personally really like gak duggi (깍두기).

Since my parents knowledge of cooking Korean food was very limited, we did go to a local Korean restaurant at least once a month. The restaurant is a small room that is attached to a Korean grocery store. The same grocery store that my parents have been buying rice and kimchee from since I was adopted. That is over 23 years! Back then the store didn't have a restaurant. It was only a grocery store.

When I first arrived the only "Korean" restaurant was actually a Chinese restaurant that happened to have a few Korean dishes. Of which my personal favorite was jajangmyeon. To this day, I love this dish, although I do not get it much. Anyways, this restaurant closed about 15 years ago.

A few months later, the Korean grocery store opened a small restaurant in a room that was attached to the store. The Korean store is creatively called

My family has been going to this restaurant since it opened and consider it the best Korean in Detroit. It is a mom and pop establishment, with the grandmother cooking the meals, and the sister and kids helping to run the store. They have known myself and my sister all of our lives.

A few years ago, we were talking to them about the other Chinese restaurant, and they started to laugh. They informed us that they were the owners of that restaurant! Which is why they opened the restaurant in the grocery store after the Chinese restaurant closed!

Anyways, since this is our favorite Korean restaurant and we have essentially been patrons of this family for over 23 years now, I consider it "home cooked" Korean food. They make the best kimchi in the world! Even with all my travels all around Korea; Hanguk makes and sells the best kimchi and gak dukki! The only place that even compares is Mrs. Hong who makes her own kimchi in Seoul!

Since Im visiting Detroit for Thanksgiving, I was able to have "home cooked" Korean twice!

First time was Friday for dinner. I went with my parents, and sister.
We had Kimbop:


We were hungry:

My sister and I both had yukgajang (Sorry, I couldnt get blogger to upload the image right side up):

My father had the fried mackerel and my mother had bimbimbop:

Yes, my mother is scraping out the guchujang...she doesnt like real spicy food.

And of course the world famous banchan! (only because I am posting it on my Although I have to say it is the best banchan I've ever had. Even better than in Korea, Houston, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Like the Kimchi, Mrs. Hong's banchan is the only one to ever beat my "home cooked" meals!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving this year was real small. Just my family (mom, dad, sister, and grandpa) and 1 of my dad's graduate students. But we still had a feast: Turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, corn, gravy, green bean casserole, salad, and apple pie!
Finished Turkey:

Getting lessons on how to carve a Turkey:

Finished Product:

Table full of food:

I so over ate (Plate 1):

Plate 2:

Here is the apple pie that I baked from scratch. The crust was excellent, probably one of my best. The filling for some reason didnt solidify very it was still a little liquidy, it still tasted good:

Here is how I eat my pie (actually, I don't really like pies. I like baking, but I don't really like pies). As you can see from the picture, I prefer whipped cream to

For those of you in Korea, I hope you were able to enjoy a yummy Thanksgiving meal. If not, hopefully these pictures will hold you over until you come back to the US!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Its Thanksgiving in the US. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you people in Korea who can't have the day off! :(

I will post more pictures of our Thanksgiving meal when its made. I got up this morning and baked this for my family! Its from scratch, even the crust! It looks really good, I'll give a full report when we eat it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I think I posted before that I was contacted by the Korean Herald about writing a human interest article about being adopted.

Well, if your in Korea, you can pick up a Tuesday and Wednesday copy, you will see my article. It was originally only supposed to be 1 page, but after I got done they decided to print the whole thing over two days!

If your not in Korea, or unable to find it, you can read it:

I hope that works. It should take you to a google webpage that has 3 pdf documents at the bottom of it. Click on those pdf files, they are pdf's of the article.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Marriage and Christmas Trees!

As my 5 readers know, Ive been taking private Korean lessons from student at Washington University in St Louis. I'll have to say that I am very surprised at how well it is working. I "found" my tutor on the internet, and I was a little skeptical because I had no clue what I was getting myself into. "Jackie" is her American name, but she was born and raised in Korea, and her parents still live in Korea. However, she is technically a US citizen and has a US passport. But she insists that she is not a "gyopo", she's only a "FOB" I find it funny that Koreans find the term "gyopo" offensive, but don't mind being called a "FOB"

What I like about our lessons is that we discuss grammar, pronunciation, and culture. Since we meet twice a week, we usually do grammar one day and on the other we practice speaking and pronunciation. Culture usually gets tied in with speaking.

I had a lesson last night. It was grammar night, but we got onto a culture topic that I found interesting. She told me that tomorrow (which is today), would be her 300th day. I was pretty confused. I knew Koreans celebrated their 100th day anniversery but I never knew of 300. Then she informed me that they even celebrate 200th day! I asked what was the customs for each of these days. I had seen on Korean dramas that guys sometimes get the girls 100 roses. Now that could get pretty expensive on 200 and 300th day anniverseries!

She told me that on their 100th day, her boyfriend gave her a ring. I knew this was a custom in Korea called "Couple Rings". She asked me if Americans do this. I had to laugh. I told her guys usually will not give a girlfriend a ring unless he is asking her to marry him. She didn't understand why. I had to explain the whole engagement and wedding thing and how in the US a ring is usually meant for engagement and most guys will stay clear of that until they are ready to get married. However in Korea, "couple rings" is I guess the equivalent of a guy giving a girl his school ring to wear? It doesn't mean they are agreeing to get married like in the US.

After this she asked me if I was going to ever get married. That caught me by surprise! "well, yea eventually, someday..." I stammared as I recovered... Then she asked how old I was, and I told her I was 28. She explained that, that was probably too young still! I was surprised by that! From what Ive seen in Korean dramas, Korean girls are really pressured to get married before 30, because after 30 its as if its too late! I assumed it was similar for guys. I asked her about this and she explained that its different for guys. She said for guys in Korea, getting married in the early 30s is good. This is because he can finish school, his military service, and be well grounded in his career.

However, apparently for girls its a lot younger. And here comes where the title of this post ties in. Jackie then made a statement which she had to explain: "For girls and marraige they are like Christmas trees"!!??!??!?!?!!??? What???? I was totally confused. Then she went on to explain. Apparently in Korea the perfect age for a female to get married is 25.

The analogy with the Christmas Tree? Well before December 25th people want to buy a Christmas trees and decorate them up, the 25th (Christmas Day) is perfect and the purpose of a Christmas tree, and each day after Christmas gets more difficult to sell a Christmas tree because no one wants one. So this is saying, marrying a girl younger than 25 is like "eye candy" and used to decorate. Marrying a 25 year old girl is perfect and is the perfect marrying age. Then each year after 25 is more difficult for a girl to get married because guys don't want to marry a girl that is past 25!

All I have to say is "THANK GOODNESS IM A GUY!!!!"...Otherwised I'd be the "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree with brown needles that no one wants to buy! I would have missed my prime marrying age! lol. Luckily since I am a guy, there is still hope for me, I still have several more years!

I asked Jackie if this type of thought is changing in Korea since more women are working and having careers. She said no. That hasn't seemed to change the belief about women getting married by 25.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I know its not Thanksgiving yet, but on Saturday my friends at church got together and had a Thanksgiving potluck! The Bereans, which is the name of the group of us at church who are past undergraduate (so grad students and young career), got together for a Thanksgiving Feast.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera at home. I think some people did have cameras so I will try and get my hands on some of the pictures. We had a big Turkey, which I helped prepare and bake. The Bereans is very progressive. I say this because three guys prepared the Actually it was pretty fun in an exciting, nervous anticipation way. None of us had fully done this on our own. Of course we have watched our mothers do it, but never by ourselves! (Thank goodness for Google!)

Then we got real adventurous and decided to make homemade gravy! Again, thank goodness for Google! We had the laptaop right on the kitchen

Just a hint for other people. We had to use a disposable cooking pan, and we didnt use a roasting rack or anything. That was a mistake because about halfway into the cooking, the pan filled up with drippings and spilled over onto the bottom of the oven! We opened up the oven and a big plume of black smoke came out and the entire house filled up with burnt smell and all of the fire alarms went off. The three of us ran around opening all the doors and windows we could. It was pretty funny. We took the turkey out and poured all of the drippings out of the pan. But, we decided that we would just have to keep cooking the turkey in the oven, even with all of the burning of the overflowing juice. There wasnt time to clean the oven, so we forged ahead. The oven kept "leaking" smokey smells for the rest of the cooking. Fortunately we were able to get the burnt smell out of the house before all of the people showed up.

The "spread" was quite amazing considering the crowd we had. I believe everything was "homemade". We had turkey, stuffing, dressing, gravy, multiple salads, mulitple breads, mashed potatoes, mashed and whole sweet potatoes, and apple and pumpkin pies. Everything looked and tasted amazing. Even the turkey came out really well. It was very juicy and didnt taste or smell like The reason I said "considering the crowd" is because most of us in the group are single and a lot of them are still in school along with the fact that the vast majority of us were asian. I was actually surprised by the fact that we didn't have a single asian dish, everything was very traditional Thanksgiving food.

I love my new church and the people in it. Since our church used to be the English ministry of a Korean church, the majority of the members are Korean, along with a few chinese and japanese, and even fewer white people. We also have an extremely "young" church. Most of the members are in college or starting their careers. I would say that most people are in their 20s. There are several families that come to our church, but most people are either single or just married. What's I like most about this church is how well everyone gets along.

Well, as soon as I get my hands on some pictures, I'll be posting them, so come back soon to see!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why Satellite is better than Cable (although its still not perfect)

In my ongoing efforts to post more, I promised myself that I will post at least once a day! Not just for the 5 readers out there, but I think that it is therapeutic for me too. So its a win win situation.

In case you didn't know, satellite television is better than cable! Cheaper, plus they have these "International Packs", where you can get a "pack" of 5 Korean channels! Actually I think its only 3 Korean channels and 2 Japanese channels. They advertise it as 5 Korean know how "they" are...all asian is the same to

KBS is included with this group of Korean channels; however it is slightly modified from the KBS in Korea; I would call it "Banana KBS". You do get the daily news (obviously in Korean), but all of the shows are either old or slightly behind the actual shows in Korea. They do this for subtitling purposes. All of us "Bananas" out there greatly appreciate KBS's work to translate the shows (The networks do a way better job of translating than the unknown internet translaters; although I do have to admit usually does a good job).

Although, its nice to have the subtitles underneath, I wish my satellite provider would actually give me straight KBS from Korea, so I could get the newest episodes. I guess if its any consolation, the KBS in St. Louis is actually ahead in episodes than the KBS in Chicago. You would think all of the "international" KBS stations being aired via satellite would be identical? St Louis is like 20 episodes ahead of Chicago, which makes it very difficult to discuss with my friend "Lacy Chu" (Although I don't think she minds, because she doesnt like "너는 내 운명"...GASP!!!).

While I think the Korean Package is totally worth it (I think its like $10/month), it would be nice to see some more mainstream channels. Besides KBS there is Arirang, but I wouldnt consider that a "Korean Channel". Sure its produced in Korea, but everything and everyone on there speaks English! Besides, Arirang broadcasts in the US on their own too! Of course they including the Gaming Network! No Korean Package would be complete without 24/7 coverage of the latest Starcraft news!! These are the only three channels that I recognize :(

If I got to pick the 5 channels I would choose the following: KBS, KBS2, SBS, and MBC, and this "banana" version of KBS I currently get! :)

The first 4 channels I would do a direct feed from the actual Korean channels. The only thing I would do is a time delay for the 13 hour time difference! I wouldn't want to have leave work at 9 am to go home to watch my favorite drama. I would also leave these in Korean because you wouldnt have time to translate but also because it is the "Korean Package"! Even a banana like me would like these channels, even in Korean. That way I could leanr it better. Plus, it would keep all of those FOBie ajummas in the US happy.

So if you happen to be a DirecTV or Dish Network manager, please..please...add these channels!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


So I had Korean lessons tonight. With a bona fide Korean. Or at least the closest one I can find. She technically is a US citizen and has been here for several years. However, the vast majority of her friends are Koreans and she preferentially speaks Korean.

I asked her if she ever heard of FOB, and Banana. She laughed and said that she's a FOB. I tried to correct her and tell her that she's a Gyopo...oh boy you should have seen the "look" I got!!! The infamous Korean stank eye!

She corrected my misunderstandings. Apparently the "rankings" go like this:

American (white) - Banana/twinkie (me) - Gyopo - FOB - Korean

I tell you what. Apparently its OK to call a Korean a FOB in the US..but dont you dare call them a gyopo!! lol.

I think most of my friends would be in the Banana/twinkie or maybe gyopo categories, although they sometimes have FOBie tendencies. However, I don't think I know many people who are true FOBs.

The lines between all of these seems really clear to me...with the exception of gyopo-FOB separation. Is there an exact number of years that separates between gyopo-FOB or what is the exact criteria for that split? After how many years in the States does it take before a FOB becomes a gyopo?

I know Im way over analyzing this whole issue, but I love it! lol...

Twinkie or Banana?

So, my friend (who shall remain nameless at this time) emailed me and said that I need to post more, and I do not disagree!!

I used to post all the time, back when I worked in Africa. There was not much else to do in Africa, and when I was at home, again, there was not much else to do. Now I work in the US and near St. Louis, so there is a lot to do! However, I do find that I get bored sometimes sitting at home, and thats when I should be posting. So, my New Year's Resolution (I know its not that time yet) is to blog more frequently. Also, I am hoping my new blog design will be done soon....its taking a lot longer than I expected!

Anyways onto the post.

My same friend, we'll call her "Lacy Chu", told me a story about twinkies and bananas. Who doesnt like twinkies? As for bananas, I tolerate them. She was not talking about food....too bad, eh? She read my post about FOBies (btw, I consider her a FOB), and explained what a twinkie and banana were. Besides the food; apparently twinkie and banana are the terminology used for people who are "yellow on the outside" and "white in the middle"...LOL.

I know again this is probably not exactly the most PC terminology but I cracked up laughing when I read this. "Lacy" claims that she's not a FOB and that she's actually a banana. I would like to disagree, because if she's a banana, then what am I? I am definitely a banana, I look asian on the outside but I am definitely "white" on the inside. I talk and think like a white person. So I now have an un-PC category that I belong too!!! Of course it doesnt sound as cool as FOB. FOB is great because you can use it as a word like "your so FOBie"; "Your so banana" doesnt make much sense. So Im going to start a quest to come up with a better word for people like me "Yellow on the Outside, White in the Middle)

Its too bad that "Lacy" has a hard time accepting her FOBness status. I have a generalization between these two categories. I would have to say 99% of the 1st or 2nd generation Korean-American (who have Korean parents) are probably FOB. If you don't have Korean parents (such as myself, being adopted) or 3rd generation or later, then you are more than likely a banana or twinkie. Lacy falls under the category of "2nd generation, living with Korean parents".

What Lacy doesn't understand is all of the "environmental" factors. Even though she has never been to Korea, she has been raised under a "Korean regime" She hasn't yet realized how her Korean parents have influenced her character with the "Korean way". Someday when she gets to be an old ajumma; with a perm, who hordes plastic bags, and comments on everyone's weight, maybe, just maybe then she will realize that indeed she was a FOB!

As for me, I have found my new sub-category! Im excited to be a banana, not too keen on the name, but Im going to work on that!

Lacy...I'll keep posting if you keep giving me ideas...maybe someday we can convince Lacy to post here as a "guest blogger". I think she secretly wants to blog...she just doesnt know it yet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fresh Off the Boat

So I was hanging out with some friends on Friday night, when they introduced me to a new word that I never heard of before.

They kept talking about how "FOB" someone was or that was a "FOB"ie thing to do...
I kept hearing them use it, and I was totally confused by what they meant. So I finally asked what it meant.

Apparently it means "Fresh Off the Boat". I don't know what happened to the letter "T" in that acronym, it probably got left off for pronuciation purposes.

I know its probably not the most politically correct word (if you really knew me you would know I really wouldnt care if it was or, but I figure its ok since they were using it to describe themselves and their friends.

From what I gather it is similar to what Koreans refer to as Gyopos. Except FOB could mean any ethnicity, not just Korean. It just so happens that some of these friends happen to be Korean.

The term FOB is a little confusing because some of the people they were referring too, had been born in the US. Meanwhile I was not considered a FOB, even though I was born overseas and literally came here on a boat (or airplane...modern times equivalent). "FOB" apparently has more to do with culture than actual geography.

Since I am practically "white" in terms of speaking, thinking, and culture I don't qualify as a "FOB". While some people who have always lived in the US, have had enough of an influence from environmental factors such as family members to be classified as a "FOB".

I guess "FOB"s are people who might not understand idioms or irony when used in the English language. The way they think or their values may be different from "mainstream" society in the US. This part I have a little bit harder time understanding. But I think a "FOB" relates to a foreign culture. Not to say they have not done a good job of integrating, but to say that they have exterrior influences beyond the US.

This is a very interesting topic to me; which is obviuosly why I am writing about it. I was wondering if anyone else out there has heard this terminology and their thoughts on what it means. Do you consider yourself a "FOB"ie? I guess those of you in Korea from the US would be "FOB"s in, there's a little irony.

To be honest, a part of me is a little jealous of "FOB"s. I can't explain why. I think its because Ive worked so hard all of my life to be integrated into American society, that I "lost" my "FOB"ness, and now I found a whole "pocket" of "FOB"s. I think maybe its a new thing to me so I am fascinated by it. I have never known that many people who would be classified as "FOB"s, now in St. Louis I have a lot of "FOB" friends. Maybe its my fascination with learning and experiencing new things, maybe I want to experience what its like to be "FOB" I think it would be easier for me to just move somewhere else in the world and become "FOB" there.

I do have to say, I consider myself lucky to find so many cool "FOB" friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunduboo II

It was a cold and blusterous rainy night in St. Louis. Perfect weather for sunduboo!!!

This is my second attempt at making sunduboo. Thanks to Maangchi for the recipe I followed.

I even debuted my new stone pot for this recipe!! I made a little change to the recipe. I used pork instead of beef. I think pork suits sunduboo better than beef.

The stone bowl worked great! It kept the sunduboo hot to the last bite! I think I even burned my tongue on my last bite!

It wasn't perfect...for some reason the egg didn't "bind" everything together and so it was a little watery.I think it was due to the way I mixed it in. You know what they say "third times a charm"!! I'll just have to be sure to make it soon!