A Korean food pilgrimage

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We visted Korea in August-September 2018. Besides family visits, a big and delightful part was a food pilgrimage. The foods I missed while in Korea were not fancy: good bread and steamed spuds—just as Asians in Australia miss their favourite rice and noodles. Starch maketh the food homely, it seems. It used to be almost impossible to get good coffee in Korea. Now it is widely available.

Here are some of the dishes we shared.

Our first (delicious) food after we arrived, tired and famished: fish soup with sesame powder sprinkled on top.

Food pilgrimage

Dolsot bap (rice cooked in a hot stone bowl … there are many variations) in James’s home town, Gimhae-si.

Food pilgrimage

Almost every Korean meal is served with side dishes (Banchan). Sometimes the side dishes really are the meal.

Food pilgrimage

Andong-jjimdak (안동찜닭) a braised chicken stew with various marinated vegetables. One large plate serves two.

Food pilgrimage

Samgyetang: chicken in ginseng soup.

Food pilgrimage

Bindaetteok: mungbean pancake.

Food pilgrimage

Jeonbok-duk: abalone rice porridge. Something of a luxury and a traditional food for convalescence, it doesn’t look much but is truly delicious.

Usually we’re not big pork fans, but Jeju black pork barbeque is the best there is. Scrumptious. (Actually, it’s the pigs that are black, not the pork.)
Food pilgrimage

Celebrated our arrival in Seogwipo on Jeju with a scrumptious fish dinner washed down with some equally delicious makgeolli (막걸리).

Food pilgrimage

James continued the food pilgrimage with Al Tang, spicy fish roe stew; I was more conservative with simple fish stew.

Food pilgrimage

Galbi: Korean beef rib bbq with James’s brother and his wife in Gim Hae. The very best I have tasted.

Food pilgrimage

Traditional Patbingsu (팥빙수): shaved ice with red beans and nut powder; delicious for the summer heat, but not easy to find.

Haemul pajeon: seafood and spring onion pancake.

Food pilgrimage

A tale of two Škodas

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Skoda TudorIn the 1950s, around 1954, my father bought a second-hand Škoda Tudor Coupe, cream-colored with a black top, just like this one. It was a superb little car and simple to maintain — Dad did it all himself.

Škoda declined during the Communist rule of Czechoslovakia, but is now is once more making superb vehicles. This week, James and I bought one, a Škoda Karoq LE 1.5 TSI Auto.

Karoq

Live longer and prosper

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To lengthen our lives we might usually think of trying to increase our years, with good diet, exercise and so forth — all a bit hit-and-miss. A piece in The Book of Life reminds us that our experience of time is subjective. We should seek to "densify" our lives, to enrich our experience rather than trying to postpone death. Children experience a year as a very long time because their experience of everything is so intense and very much of it is new. It has to with novely, The Book of Life contends. "The more our days are filled with new, unpredictable and challenging experiences, the longer they will feel." … By middle age, things can be counted upon to have grown a lot more familiar. We may have flown around the world a few times. We no longer get excited by the idea of eating a pineapple, owning a car or flipping a lightswitch. We know about relationships, earning money and telling others what do. And as a result, time runs away from us without mercy."

The answer is not to try to cram in many expensive novelties, such as much travel to exotic places. Rather, let us take greater notice of things around us.

"We have probably taken a few cursory glances at the miracles of existence that lie to hand and assumed, quite unjustly, that we know all there is to know about them. We’ve imagined we understand the city we live in, the people we interact with and, more or less, the point of it all." In fact we have barely scratched the surface. Time races by because we have not paused to study properly.

Art especially "re-introduces us to ordinary things and reopens our eyes to a latent beauty and interest in precisely those areas we had ceased to bother with. It helps us to recover some of the manic sensitivity we had as newborns." We see Cezanne, "looking closely at apples, as if he had never seen one before," and Van Gogh, "mesmerised by some oranges". Or Albrecht Durer, "looking — as only children usually do — very closely at a clod of earth."

"We don’t need to make art in order to learn the most valuable lesson of artists, which is about noticing properly, living with our eyes open — and thereby, along the way, savouring time. Without any intention to create something that could be put in a gallery, we could — as part of a goal of living more deliberately — take a walk in an unfamiliar part of town, ask an old friend about a side of their life we’d never dared to probe at, lie on our back in the garden and look up at the stars or hold our partner in a way we never tried before. […]

"It is sensible enough to try to live longer lives. But we are working with a false notion of what long really means. We might live to be a thousand years old and still complain that it had all rushed by too fast. We should be aiming to lead lives that feel long because we have managed to imbue them with the right sort of open-hearted appreciation and unsnobbish receptivity, the kind that five-year-olds know naturally how to bring to bear. We need to pause and look at one another’s faces, study the evening sky, wonder at the eddies and colours of the river and dare to ask the kind of questions that open our souls. We don’t need to add years; we need to densify the time we have left by ensuring that every day is lived consciously — and we can do this via a manoeuvre as simple as it is momentous: by starting to notice all that we have as yet only seen."

Underneath the stars

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Beautiful music.

Underneath the Stars by Kate Rusby, sung by Voces 8 in 2017

Underneath the stars I’ll meet you.
Underneath the stars I’ll greet you.
There beneath the stars I’ll leave you,
before you go of your own free will.

Go gently, go gently

Underneath the stars you met me.
Underneath the stars you left me.
I wonder if the stars regret me.
At least you’ll go of your own free will.

Go gently, go gently

Here beneath the stars I’m landing.
Here beneath the stars not ending
Why on earth am I pretending?
I’m here again, the stars befriending.
They come and go of their own free will

Go gently, go gently.

Underneath the stars you met me.
Underneath the stars you left me.
I wonder if the stars regret me.
I’m sure they’d like me if they only met me.
They come and go of their own free will.