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Monday, September 7, 2009

Congealed gelatinous fish product

From now on when a coworker asks why I don't take advantage of the free cafeteria meals served at school, I'm going to point them toward this post.

My school serves three meals a day, providing a Western option for breakfast with cereal, toast, peanut butter and eggs. Not bad.

But lunch and dinner are a total hodgepodge, blending Western and Korean cuisine and turning even impossible to ruin foods -- like spaghetti -- into unpalatable slime. That's not even discussing calories (public school meals are meant to have 800-1000 calories per meal), MSG, chemicals and oils.

After a few months of eating the free food but gaining weight, being continually tired and just feeling absolutely disgusting, I quit the cafeteria and now only take advantage of the breakfast.

I've blogged enough about delicious Korean foods -- ho dduk and bibimbap, to name a couple -- but how about the disgusting ones? Anyone who's seen the Korea episodes of "No Reservations" or "Bizarre Foods" knows what I'm talking about: bosintang (dog soup), silkworm larvae, live octopus... When you can gross out Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, that's saying something!

Because of our all-American good looks and bountiful charm (note sarcasm, please), Paul and I were chosen to spend a couple of Mondays interviewing potential adult students in Gangnam. These employees of the Seoul City Government have been selected to attend my school for two days -- yes, 50-something municipal workers will take classes like cooking, bank and airplane -- and Paul and I were administering level tests to divide the group based on English proficiency.

They provided lunch before the tests and I was surprised to see that government employees receive basically the same lunch as our students. Can you imagine eating this every day?!

Delicious? Rice, fish flakes, congealed gelatinous fish product (?), kimchi and non-spicy sundubu (tofu soup). There was also beef but that didn't make it near my tray!

We're going back next week and I'm tempted to stow a sandwich in my purse. In general, Korean food is tasty but this just confirms my decision to stay out of the cafeteria.

After trying everything (besides the beef, which Paul said wasn't very good and glistened with huge chunks of fat), I ate the soup, kimchi and rice. At least that covers the vegetable and starch food groups...

I was amused that the school's van had a police siren. For all those educational emergencies? ;)

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