Sunday, May 15, 2005

보자기 / bo-ja-gi

On Friday I went out of a lunchtime coffee and doughnuts ["Dunkin' Donuts" - Ask me, am I happy with what the USA is doing to the English language??] with my last morning class, which was a nice chance to get to know them better as people rather than students, and then later for dinner with the final class of the day. I suggested to the second group we could share a pizza, so we all wandered across the road to 'Fresco' - but one of the group, an older male in his late 30s who hadn't been in class that day (I won't name names here) doesn't like Italian food, so we went for a spicy chicken and noodle stew (jjim-dak; 찜닭) instead.

I wouldn't have minded except that he seemed to be implying that he wouldn't eat Italian food because he was Korean. And apparently asked the others why they wanted to eat non-Korean food. I hope it was just my imperfect Korean causing me to misunderstand.

Anyway, the jjim-dak was good and the guy drank like a fish while the rest of us chatted civilly.^^

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On Saturday I met up with a good Korean friend I met in Western Australia and spent a lot of time with there. She's a lovely girl and great to talk with - and she seems intent on showing me as much Korean culture (old and of course new) as she possibly can! We visited the small art gallery beneath Lotte Department Store where the grandma(?) of one of her students has an exhibition of her work this week.

There's a traditional Korean object called a bo-ja-gi, a large square of fabric woven from scraps of material left over when the women used to make clothes - it's used as a cover for food. I suppose the British could compare it to a cross between one of those metal lids we sometimes cover plates with and a tea cosy. But in order to keep this craft alive, this talented woman has elevated this humble tradition to an art form and some of the bo-ja-gis are really beautiful. If you have time this week and you're in the area, I'd recommend a visit.

Without knowing that I'd missed out on a meal at Fresco the night before, we went to another branch of the same chain for dinner. The food was nothing special, but the nice decor and good company (and the discount card she had!) made it far more enjoyable than it could otherwise have been.

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And today, Sunday, is Buddha's birthday. I thought about going to a temple to join the celebrations but for some reason I'm feeling burned out today. I'll pay Buddha a belated birthday visit later in the week instead. I just need a rest and an early night.

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