Sorry for the long time of inactivity… This time I will write a little bit about my food experience in Seoul!
Oh dear! I gained a lot of weight again since I study here in Seoul and one of the reasons is the yummi food in here! I actually planned to write this post much ealier together with some more informations about my daily life here, but well, I was pretty busy the last month. As promised I will talk a bit about the food I was able to try so far and eating habbits you will definitely adopt.
First difference between a European and a Korean table is actually quite nice: As you can see above in Korea the main dish always goes with two or more side dishes. And of course what is the bread and noodles for the German is the rice for the Korean.
One of the most different customs compared to my family’s is the fact that you always eat together. And usually not in your home but in one of the many many restaurants out. If you go alone to a restaurant you aren’t even able to eat everything, some dishes are just served for two or more people (like Shabu Shabu). There are of course people eating alone at a restaurant or at home, but the majority is eating together as it is usual for them. You may be stared at if you decided to eat out alone (especially as a foreigner). I experienced, speaking of my korean friends, that even if you are starving to death already since class was over, you still wait for your friends to come out of their courses to go out for dinner. What is also new for most of the foreigners who come here is the fact that you don’t order your own food and eat it by your own, you order many dishes and share them all together usually.
The opposite is the “I don’t have time for eating” habit, many students don’t eat proper breakfast or lunch, they quickly grab a roll of kimbap at the local convinience store or at the old lady’s booth next to the office workers sipping their strawberry milk. After the first hours of their marathon of studying they just eat some cup noodle or ramyeon the the next convenient or 24h store. But if the risk to lose their seat in the library is too high, some would even skip their meals completely. This is actually pretty contradictory because a proper meal is more important than anything else, according to every korean parent.
Another fact is, as a vegeterian you will be left stranded in here because mostly the first question I get asked is “What do you want to eat, chicken? Beef? Or pork?”. You decide which restaurant you are heading for according to your decision of which meat you wanna eat. Almost every restaurant is specialised in some meat dish, but these days the vegetarian restaurants are also gaining more population as we know it from western countries. In general it’s not well seen to order something out of the menu, so you should just choose a dish that is without fish or meat instead. You are vegan? Have an allergy? Then you should probably look up a vegan place or studying the ingredients before wandering around in quest of finding a good restaurant to eat at or just eat at home. It sounds cruel but many people are not accostumed to people saying they don’t eat meat.
Drinking and working? For most of us these two actions are not compatible. For me anyway. But if you walk around the streets in Hongdae or Shinchon you can see many office workers trying to make their way home after a drink (or many) with their boss. On monday. And wednesday. Actually korean drink at any time. For lunch a bottle of soju or beer makes the perfect combination with their meat. During lunch break? Of course! And on Friday night? Let’s drink until dawn! I had some bad blackouts thanks to alcohol as well in my life but what I saw in Seoul was really terrifying. Girls lying around in their short dresses passed out and weird drunk guys picking up a fight. At 3 am I would say okay, that are the victims of their excessive night out in a club but most of these people are already totally done at 9pm. Okay I may exaggerate a little bit, but it is normal that once a week you go out for having a drink. And here we reach the point I can not understand.
If I would drink think this much as a normal female student in Seoul does, I would have to consider living in here for the sake of my body’s health. The other point is I would gain weight until I couldn’t even fit in international H&M clothes anymore. With every drink usually goes a small fatty dish. There may be a healthy opportunity as well but all I see on the girls tables are fries and chicken or kimchi stir fried rice. Topped with cheese. But most of them wear a European size XS. Not all but most of them. Now someone explain me how their bodies work. Is it the genes? Do they skip the other meals for it? Defenitely some do sports but the majority doesn’t.
At this point I have to say I really envy them. Of course they may eat more healthy than European, but if I would eat rice in the morning or as much meat as they do I would still gain weight. The fact that skinny girls are eating chicken and drinking 2 bottles of soju (1 has more than 500kcal) almost every weekend and still fit in the tiny tennis skirt I could just dream of is a mystery for me.
Something that underlines this mystery is the coffee shop culture that developed in the city of Seoul. Many many cafés that offer all kinds of sweet sins for your sweet tooth. You go there for studying and meeting friends and – you share a cake or sip on a dairy cup of latte. There are lattes of literally everything. Green tea, strawberry, blueberry, even red or black bean latte. And most of them are calorie bombs that could actually substitute your lunch.
Above you can see a for me totally new Korean honey butter bread! If you ever plan to live here and all the food is new to you, you better bring your running shoes ;) that’s it so far!
Next time I will -in opposition to this post- tell you something about diet and beauty in Korea! Thank you for reading :3