Monday, February 28, 2005

Go-chujang: Korea’s Finest Contribution to My Life

Last week there came a pivotal moment in my life here in Shimokita. I drove one hour over the mountains and through the woods in the snow to pick up my giant order of go-chujang at Shimokita’s only Korean restaurant in Mutsu. Go-chujang is a spicy sort of red bean paste that I categorize as a “happy-food.” Now my cooking is already back into my Toronto groove, as I am once again using go-chujang to marinate my meat, stir-fry my rice, and apply to everything else that I put in my mouth (with the possible exception of my toothbrush—I’m still thinking that one through).

This is one of my favourite snacks—hot rice mixed with go-chujang and sesame oil. It’s a trick I picked up in Toronto where most of my students were Korean, and where my Japanese housemates and I did most of our grocery shopping in Korea Town. In my neverending bachelor’s battle against scurvy, I always mix expensive, organic 玄米 (genmai: brown rice) from Ms. Inaba’s natural foods store in with my cheaper white rice, so this is a fairly healthy and hearty oyatsu (Japanese word for "snack").

I used to think that it would be cool if I could use my “bilingual-gaijin” powers to become one of those people on talk shows who eat things, contort their faces into a series of ecstatic expressions, and say “oishii!” or “umai! [grunt] nnn, umai!” Unfortunately my cell phone self-portraiture revealed to me that I have no talent for this line of work.