Sunday, March 9, 2014

I Told You So!

This weekend was Pub Crawl here in Monroe, Wisconsin.  It's a big thing here but I don't know why.  I mean, the only difference between this weekend and the other weekends is that people take pictures and post them on Facebook.  I guess you could say I'm surrounded by heavy drinkers. 

I've been pretty butthurt this weekend.  It started because I wasn't sleeping much.  Too much caffeine.  I've been drinking tea instead of soda pop and since I love drinking liquids, I drank way too much. 

So the butthurt didn't start with me not sleeping, but it didn't help, and I found something that really pissed me off. 

Saveur Magazine had some articles on Korea cuisine.  Korean food is now trendy amongst the foodie snobs and various food writers.  Anthony Bourdain gave his blessing and now we're all supposed to eat kimchi. 

I was writing articles on Korean food for American travel and food magazines over fifteen years ago and nobody cared.  This was back before magazines allowed electronic submissions and queries, so I had to spend about $30.00 on International Reply Coupons and enclose them with each SASE I sent off.  It was bullshit and took forever. 

I wrote about the religious implications of the Korean rice harvest and why it didn't matter how cheap the farmers in Texas could produce the same specific grain, it would never sell.  I thought for sure it would sell.  Nobody wanted it. 

I wrote an article on Korean Buddhist cusine, which was different from regular Korean food, and far healthier.  I thought for sure with all the health magazines out there somebody would pick it up.  Nobody did. 

I could go on and on.  I used up my IRCs on queries.  When they were gone, I gave up. 

So last night, I was looking through Saveur Magazine and the online Saveur 100:  2014's Best Food, Drinks, and Whatever.  (Not really, I'm just pissed.)  And they had three Korean items on the list.  First, they had the Gwangjang Market, with all the small food tents and trucks.  Been there, done that, took pictures and tried to get somebody to buy them. 

Second, they mentioned bindaeduk, which is a mung bean pancake.  It's bland as hell and you have to put stuff into it for flavor.  Squid, octopus, veggies, kimchi.  It's seriously bland.  You can buy the mix in an Asian store. 

Third, they mentioned Yuja-cha, which is a tea made from sweetened citron rind and served hot.  It tastes like hot lemonade. 

None of these even begins to touch the surface of Korean culture and the food.  None of it even comes close. 

When I was submitting these queries, I really did look at myself as a diplomat of sorts, maybe even a cultural translator.  I figured it was my job to educate folks.  Part of what I did over there was teach tour guides English so as a result, I learned a great deal about Korea's history and culture. 

Most of these articles I've found were just flashes of random things.  And while they weren't negative, they certainly didn't illustrate just how wonderful it could be, if one took the time to sit down and learn. 

I don't think I would have made a good travel writer for magazines.  I keep noticing how I tend to focus on the culture and why they do what they do.  And none of these flashy, snobby articles do that. 

This weekend, some things happened.  I learned something.  And like always, those lessons seem to circle back around to the past somehow.  I don't talk about Korea much.  I don't talk about what I did there, or how important it was in my life, growth and development as a human being.  And I certainly don't talk much about the people I left behind.  One of these days I will. 

It's easier to talk about food.  Food makes memories easier to revisit.  We eat to remember and when we remember food, we remember the good times more than the bad.  Sometimes I think there is redemption in food.  Maybe that's why I'm so damned big and I can't find pants that fit.  And maybe that's why I'm not sleeping. 

Even Gold Mountain must be seen after eating. 
심지어 식사 후 볼 수 있어야합니다.

---A Korean Proverb.  

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