Today starts part two in the Expat to Expat Q&A hosted by my friend Belinda at Found Love Now What and The Hemborg Wife. I’ve really enjoyed this link-up series they have started. It’s let me get a glimpse of the lives of other expats around the world. Last month we talked about weather. This month? One of my favorite topics: food!
1. What is your favorite food tradition in your new country?
My husband and I have a weekly date night. We have decided that we will go to a new restaurant every week, and then once a month we can revisit an old favorite if we choose to do so instead. There are hundreds of little restaurants all over Geoje, and we’ve really enjoyed this personal challenge! It not only gets us out of our comfort zone (trust me…some of these places are SKETCH!), but we’ve found some adorable little diners that we would have never tried otherwise! Not all places have been good to us however. We’ve been to some nasty restaurants. The thing is, the physical look of the restaurant may look appealing, but that doesn’t mean their food will be!
2. Where have you traveled to that you thought had the best food to offer?
Hands down, Vietnam. Derik and I crave Vietnamese food quite often. Lucky for us we found a little authentic restaurant here in Geoje! The food is a little bit more spicy (to meet the Korean standards of ‘good food’), but it’s still delish! Derik loves the soup in Vietnam. Not only is it packed with tons of flavor, but the locals are very generous with their cilantro (not a personal favorite of mine). I’m in LOVE with Vietnamese spring rolls. They come fresh packed and un-fried. Nothing more refreshing than a spring roll, especially when they come with a healthy serving of mint inside!
3. What is the typical breakfast where you currently live and would you eat it back home?
I’m not huge into breakfast. I have never been, even back in the States. IF I do eat breakfast it’s a packet of oatmeal or a glass of juice. My habits haven’t changed much since we’ve moved abroad.
4. What type of restaurant, either style or type of food, do you think is lacking in your new home?
A good salad bar. I’ve found a couple restaurants that claim to have salad bars on the island, but they’ve been lacking in a major way. Nine times out of ten they usually just serve iceburg lettuce, canned toppings, and various korean salads. Nothing like pickled sparrow eggs in mayonnaise
i have yet to gather the courage to try this, and I’m pretty sure I never will. One of my favorite restaurants to visit back home was Sweet Tomatoes. If you’ve never been to a Sweet Tomatoes you’re seriously missing out. It’s pretty much the biggest salad bar you’ll ever have the pleasure of eating from. Not only are there 5-6 different types of leafy greens to choose from, you have about 50 other toppings to pile on.
5. Do you think your home state/city/province has a food everyone should try?
I’m not sure if we’re talking about my old home or new home here. My old home was Portland, Oregon. If you haven’t visited the NW, I would suggest that you put it on your high priority list. The Northwest offers so much. Sure it’s a little eccentric and weird, but the presence of healthy living is hard to ignore. I’ve never seen so many farmer’s markets or people out exercising than I did in Portland. As far as food goes, Portland is the hub of many ethnic groups. Not only is the world headquarters of Nike located there, but the Intel company has a large productions base in the city as well. You can find loads of Indian, Italian, Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, and American restaurants in and around Portland, not to mention the wineries (I could go for a tour about now!). I miss the strange little breakfast joints scatterend around the city. My favorite place to go was called Stepping Stone. It’s a nationally famous pancake stop on the corner of a downtown street. Man vs. Food actually stopped there a few years ago and did a show on their pancakes the size of pizzas.
6. What is your favorite dish to prepare that you would never have made back home?
Living abroad has been great for me. I have learned to cook almost everything from scratch, and enjoy to the challenge to make American food while living in Korea. I’m not super keen on Korean food
lets face it, most of it’s pretty terrible, so I stick with making American food at home. Derik and I eat pretty healthy, and I usually make something with quinoa or chicken for dinner. My new favorite is pan fried quinoa with veggies and soy sauce. It’s pretty yummy!
7. What is the oddest food in your new country?
Korea is the king of odd. I am constantly raising my eyebrows as I keep learning about something new they eat. What’s on the menu? Jellyfish, eels, sea cucumbers, sea squirts, live octopus, cuddle fish, and stingray. This is their definition to seafood. No. Thank. You.
There’s another item up for the ‘oddest food’ award. And that would be Beondegi. Beondegi is boiled/steamed silkworm larvae, and smells like death. I swear you can smell the stuff boiling three blocks away. The worst part? It’s still squirming in the bowl when you buy it. Derik actually tried it once on a dare, and to this day he keeps ranting on how terrible it was. If it tastes worse than the smell that’s saying something.
8. If you could have a crate of one type of food sent to you from your home country, what would it be?
I’m blessed to have a Costco nearby that imports US products. I’m also blessed to have found iherb.com, a crazy online resource that has about anything and everything when it comes to health food, spices, herbs, and natural products. I also have two foreign marts in my town that carry things like: cheese, bacon, pickles (I’ve been on a HUGE dill pickle kick lately, I don’t understand it), beans, and spices.
If I could get a crate of food back home it would contain: a sinful amount of peanut butter m&ms, almond milk, cottage cheese, cream of wheat, a whole heap load of brussels sprouts, asparagus, and cherries, sweet corn on the cob (ideally from Minnesota), and beef jerky (for Derik). I’m sure if I really had time I could come up with an exhaustive list, but that’ll do for now.
9. What three foods remind you of summer?
Watermelon. Watermelon. Watermelon. No but really, watermelon. I LOVE this green and pink fruit of goodness, and much to my delight it’s coming into season! Right now I can find it in the market 2 for 10,000W (or $10.00). Last year I ate about two whole watermelons a week. Is that terrible? It’s ok, I don’t care.
10. What food from your new country are you surprised to enjoy?
I really enjoy something called Dak galbi. It’s basically a stir fried mixture of chicken, cabbage, potato, onions, mushrooms, rice cakes, and chili pepper paste. Sometimes it’s a little too spicy and I end up crying like a baby while eating it (I’m sure that’s a sight to see). When we first arrived in Korea I was very opposed to spicy foods. After living here for a year and a half I have realized that there’s no escaping the hot chili peppers; I should just suck it up and get used to it…even with my runny nose and teary eyes.
Bonus: Where was your favorite place you ever took a summer vacation to?
So far? Bali. We’ve been on three vacations in the past year, but only one of them was in the summer. I’m so excited for our trip to BORNEO, Malaysia this summer! We leave August 2 and get back on the 10th. I’m already gearing up for a fantastic time in one of the world’s oldest rain forests. You better believe we will be doing canopy walks, canoeing adventures, snorkeling, and other water activities!