Monday, February 27, 2012

Down in one!

We enjoyed a buffet-style dinner with all the teachers and supervisors from the school Friday night as part of the yearly farewell dinner to all those moving on to new jobs.  The food was wonderful, and many of us were glad for something different. We've tried several restaurants, but due to our lack of knowledge, we keep ending up in the same types of restaurants. In these, you sit on the floor around a table. There's a grill in the middle of the table to cook the meat you order, and generally, everyone at the table shares everything.

Denver and Valerie at the dinner table

After you order, the server brings out about a dozen small bowls of sides and relishes. There are sesame leaves for wrapping, salad, kimchi, soup, marinated onions, and many other things. Then the meat comes out and you begin cooking. In our case, the waitress feels bad for our confusion, and cooks it for us! We've had sirloin, flank steak, and King ribs, which are nothing like ribs in the U.S.

The table of side dishes with the grill in the middle

This Friday night's buffet was mysteriously called Shabu Shabu, and the myriad of prepared Asian dishes, like Chinese fried rice, Japanese sushi, etc. was supplemented with a boiling pot of broth in the middle of the table into which you add whatever you want from the raw bar to make soup. There were all sorts of vegetables, noodles, seafood, and meats to choose from. You choose based on your table's tastes.  

We've also experienced Korean food at each day of training, as the school provides lunch for the morning teachers and dinner for the afternoon teachers.  The food is traditional Korean food, typically consisting of some sort of kimchi (made with cabbage, radishes, or sprouts), soup (usually broth with seaweed, and seafood or tofu), a side dish (more radishes, salad, or potatoes), and main course (varies from American-style chicken nuggets to an entire baked fish, head, tail, and all). There is always a pot of white rice, too.  It's not my favorite meal of the day, but I'm grateful that it's free!
The new teachers were surprised at how openly everyone was drinking at the farewell dinner.  We all agreed that at work-related functions in America, alcohol is not usually purchased on the company tab. If it is, there is some limitation.  However, at the farewell dinner the beer was flowing freely.  As soon as a bottle went empty, the waitress would swing by to replace it.  Our school's director and principal were making rounds to fill glasses, too! After a few speeches, dinner was over and general socializing began.  Amidst our conversation, I heard chanting, "Down in one! Down in one!"
The deputy director of the school (and the woman who has been training us), was standing at a table chugging an entire glass of beer, down in one.  This happened to Diane about five or six different times during the party.  It is not polite to turn down a drink in Korea, especially if it's offered by an elder. And it's bad luck to refill your own glass.  I can say no one was disappointed to learn, or practice, any of these rules.  Certainly not when our boss ran face first into the door.  Nor when she said goodbye holding her head, "Oh my. So dizzy. So very dizzy."

Some Korean beers

After dinner, the old teachers wanted to introduce the new teachers to the bar scene in Incheon.  About 4-5 beers in, we poured out onto the streets and split into different cabs to experience our first night out in Korea. I'll get into that as soon as I recover from our second night out in Korea!


  1. I've been reading your blog, love the pics!

  2. Thanks for reading- I'm glad to hear it!! :)

  3. Oh I was excited to hear about the food. How is the vegan-ism going? I don't think I could turn down the chance to try all those new foods.... The vegan-bug has bit here... I've been making all kinds of "Reci-peas" from our favorite blog (after this one, of course!) and even ordered the Peas and Thank You Cookbook. I must say, I haven't cut out ALL animal products, but minimizing! I want to see more pictures of the food-y food :)