Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Paul Meets the Family

Well, my Korean family. Well, my Korean mom at least. It was a cold and rainy Saturday. It was pitch black at just 3pm, but with Peeps and rice cakes in hand, we made our way through the deluge to meet Ms. Han in Jongno (near her office). Her husband, who was working, suggested that we all eat at their house, so Paul and I could experience a home cooked meal. We both totally agreed. I think I can count how many home cooked meals I've had in Korea on one hand.

Let me preface this with Paul and I arrived starving. Knowing Ms. Han, I knew this would be a feast, and it was, but not for several hours. For it was 3 pm when we left Jongno, roughly 4 when we got to Emart to buy the supplies, and probably around 7 when we actually sat down to dinner. But no matter, we got to Emart and Ms. Han is running about trying to decide what all to make. We got our meats, crab and seafood, veggies, and tons of magkeolli and set off for the Han home.

We walk in and are greeted by her 80 year old mother. She's been staying with Ms. Han for a few weeks while she gets some dental work done. She maaaaaybe came up to my hips. She was so cute, I just wanted to pick her up!! Ms. Han and her mom immediately start cooking up a pajeon (seafood pancake) and Paul and I are left to hang out with her two kids. They're super nice and outgoing, and showed up their cool turtles and some favorite Korean TV shows- which we NEVER get to see as we don't have a TV. I tried to help but Ms. Han insisted we just sit.

So we had some pajeon as a "snack." I use this term loosely as she made 4 of them and that would have been more than enough for dinner! Then she set paper down on the floor, brought a grill out and plugged it in, and rolled out a table (about 6" off the table). While her mom is still making soup Ms. Han starts cooking up the meat. Paul and I sit around the table which is filled with 5 different kimchis, lettuce leaves, rice, gochugang and cucumbers and peppers, and Ms. Han starts putting the meat on the table. She's cooking, Mom's cooking in the kitchen, and the kids are apparently not invited to the table, and she insists we start eating. Every piece of etiquette in me tells me NO, but who's to argue with the Han!? Finally her mom comes over with a large pot of crabs, shrimp, other shellfish and deonjenjijjage (fermented soybean soup) and she sits. And we all eat and chat. Her mom obviously doesn't speak and English, then her husband came in from work, who also doesn't speak any English. One highlight over dinner was Ms. Han asking Paul, "So, when are you getting married?" hahahaha No time soon, but we're thinking Bali.

Post dinner we sat around, just the adults, drinking magkeolli and chit chatting. Ms. Han offered Paul and I to stay in their extra room anytime we come back to visit ("You no get hotel!") and we told her we'll take her out in HK when she's there for a jewelry show in September. We just had the loveliest time. She is the kindest, most hospitable person, and I am so sad to be leaving. "You;re leaving because you don't like me." haah this was post-magkeolli. They couldn't have gone more out of their way for us, and then they did and drove us the 40 minutes back to my house!! It was such a perfect day, and it's so weird to think Ms. Han knows more people in my life, than almost anyone else. She's met my parent's, my best friend here, and my boyfriend. She's the only person in the world who can say that.

Meeting her tomorrow for an afternoon class, hopefully I'll be able to take her out soon and show her a real burger!

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