Monday, April 04, 2005

CELEBRATION: a foodblog and virtual "hike"

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Sorry for the tardiness, but it's been a strange morning. Smoo called and told me that I can move into my new place early, but I'd have to pay W400,000 rent (about $400 US) because I'd be there before my contract starts. That sucks balls. Since my Adjoshi has agreed to allow me to stay at my current place, I think I'll just stay put until a few days before classes begin, thereby minimizing whatever nasty rent I have to pay. Smoo says that rent is always W400,000 a month, but they provide a W300,000 housing allowance. This basically means they're snatching W100,000 a month from me, but I plan on using my free time to stack up on whatever paid overtime work they can give me.

Now-- foodblogging.

I celebrated by making my standard seafood white sauce. Something seemed to be missing... then I realized it was the white wine. The sauce tasted fine-- very rich, very creamy-- but could have used that extra oomph. For a guy who doesn't drink, I seem to have a fondness for alcohol in my food.

the rebel scum are alerted to our presence

In the above photo, you see some of the cast of characters involved in last night's performance. Fake crab (I love that name in Korean: gae-mat sal, or "crab-flavored flesh/meat"), shrimp, garlic (green bag), onion, parsley, and mushrooms, along with olive oil and corn oil. Not pictured: basil, oregano, a lovely wedge of parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and the ingredients for the Béchamel sauce.

Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to the system

For me, this is the best-smelling part of the process. I lay out some olive oil (some corn oil is there mainly to economize the olive oil, no other reason), then stick a huge, heaping spoonful of garlic in the skillet. I stir fry that until it's barely beginning to brown, mainly because I'm not a fan of a strong garlic taste.

Next, I stick in the finely minced parsley and stir fry. Then in go the onions and mushrooms. I'll add basil and oregano around this point, too. I let this reduce, then add the seafood. Reduce again, stirring the whole time. If I'd had white wine, I'd have added it and reduced a third time. That, right there, is edible in itself. I sometimes wonder why I bother with white sauce.

he felt surprise was wiser...

But white sauce is what I add. The Béchamel is basically milk and butter brought to a very gentle boil, with flour slowly added until the sauce thickens (stirring constantly here, too, otherwise everything scalds). Salt, pepper, and spices are added. The shrimp mixture is piled into this, and the result is what you see above. Mmmm.

I said the white wine was missing, and its absence did affect the sauce's initial taste, but I have to say that, after a few minutes, it didn't seem to matter much: the sauce ended up tasting fine.

he is as clumsy as he is stupid.  prepare your troops for a surface attack.

I cheated and used store-bought pasta this time. What you see above is how I ate dinner on Sunday evening around 10PM: beautiful spaghetti on top of a cardboard box, with a glass of water as accompaniment. Did you catch the parmesan? Damn, that made a difference. Great accent to the meal. I'm becoming a parmesan snob, too: it's going to be hard to accept bottled, powdered parmesan after a diet of cheese wedges. And I'm one of those freaks who can eat whole chunks of parmesan cheese without thinking twice. Ssssstanky.

I also wanted to make a "camp style" apple pie for dessert, but it was late and I was tired, so I only got as far as prepping the apples. I might try and make a deep-fried "pie crust" tonight; if it works out, I'll be sure to photoblog it. In the meantime, what you see below is a simple dessert: ice cream plus... uh... apple pie filling. Scroll down.

I don't know where you get your delusions, laser brains

First you gotta chop them apples. Remember this, too: fresh apples release a lot of water in cooking. There's little need to add water when making a pie filling.

laugh it up, fuzzball

Add a lot of sugar, somewhat less flour, a good bit of cinnamon, and some butter. Mix that thang.

but you didn't see us in the south passage.

Stick it all in your pot and bring up to medium heat. Stir. Be patient. Stir more. And more. I was eyeballing my measurements, so I had to taste periodically and noticed I hadn't added enough sugar and cinnamon (again, I hadn't properly reckoned on how much water the apples would release). Don't let the mixture burn, and watch out for caramelization.

she expressed her true feelings for me

Behold-- the apples' traveling companion on the way to Gutville. I suspect that Raoul will get a kick out of this Korean brand name.

anger, fear, aggression... the dark side of the force are they

The tasty result.

OK, enough foodblogging! Now we move on to the virtual hike of Namsan. You're about to follow me on my daily (or eveningly, or nightly) walk up the ancient mountain. Ready?

easily do they flow, quick to join you in a fight

Above is Line 6's Dolgoji Station, Exit #3, about 150 meters from where I live. We're gonna head down into the station, take the subway in the direction of Eung-am, and get off at Beot'igogae Station, which is where I usually start my clock.

is the dark side stronger?

We're at Beot'igogae Station, and I've just gotten off the train. Now we're on our way up some steps and over to a long-ass escalator.

no.  no.  quicker.  easier.  more seductive.

We're on the escalator, going up, looking down. Behold bigness. Biggitude. Bigosity.

no more will I teach you today.  clear your mind of questions.

After you get off that escalator, you're not done. You've got another set of stairs, the ticket gate, and then there's this smaller escalator.

the cave is collapsing!

Your first view upon leaving the station is always a woman's ass.

Seest thou yon crosswalk? Friend, we cross it today!

Yes: we cross the crosswalk and go left, following a path that curves rightward.

this is no cave.

On the path now, moving downhill a bit. One of our final downhills. In another couple minutes, the walk will be entirely uphill.

It was a great day for taking pictures. It had rained in the morning, but the rest of the day was bright and clear.

I want them alive.  no disintegrations.

Here at this large intersection, we go right and head toward the National Theater. Uphill, baby. Ready?

why, you slimy, double-crossin', no-good swindler.

Here, for your benefit, I've paused to show you something I pass every day. It's partially visible in the previous picture, too.

you got a lotta guts comin here, after what you pulled.

Uphill... relentlessly uphill. The hill crests just before you reach the National Theater and goes slightly down. But you get only a few meters of downhill before you have to cross the street and go uphill again.

you are beaten.  it is useless to resist.

Not at the downhill stretch quite yet. Here, we're crossing a border, moving into Joong-gu (Central District).

Philosophical question: this border was man-made, but people are a subset of the larger category, "nature" (or so I assume; not everyone agrees). Does this mean that the border is actually natural?

It's a question of categories, isn't it? I think so. The mind makes categories. How real that border is depends on whether your mind grasps and/or respects the categories in question. If you're a squirrel, you're such a dumb shit that the man-made border means nothing to you. But even though you're a dumbass squirrel, you're wired to be responsive to other notions and visual cues, just as dogs respond to vertical surfaces by pissing on them.

If "nature" is the largest circle in the Venn diagram, what's unnatural?

don't let yourself be destroyed as Obi-wan did.

We've done our slight downhill stretch, and now we're about to cross the street over to the National Theater side. I've never been in the National Theater. I heard they only let in people who can prove they have pure Korean blood and can provide hard evidence that they have always considered Tokdo to be Korean territory.

always with you it cannot be done

We take the road upward, curving left, like Satan's penis. The National Theater is off to our right.

There's a lady selling concessions up the hill (drinks, ice cream, bun-shik); I never buy anything from her.

hear you nothing that I say?

After we pass the ticket booth for cars, we trudge uphill in earnest. Look waaaay in the distance and you see our first major choice: which path to take?

master, moving stones around is one thing, but this is different.

The fork in the road. If I go left, it's the easy route. Gentle, switchbacking road, leading up to Seoul Tower. If I go right... it's a longer path, leading to a library and a bunch of nasty, nasty stairs, also ending at Seoul Tower. Not nasty because they're dilapidated: nasty because they're so numerous. Going right is what badasses do.

no different!  only different in your mind!

We go left. I'm a wuss and a creature of habit.

The word on the road is san-ch'aek-gil, which indicates the path for walkers.

something's happened on Regula One.  we've been ordered to investigate.

Boundaries. Borders. Signs. We must be truly idiotic to need so many indications for where to go.

The left side says "Joong-gu," or Central District. The right side says "Yongsan-gu," or Dragon Mountain District.

if memory serves, Regula One is a scientific research laboratory.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Uphill is now the only word echoing in your mind. Actually, the hill isn't that bad. I've had my ass kicked by old men who've walked the hill faster than I do. But they're mutants, those guys. I'm usually able to pass most people on my way up. The people who pass me tend to be bikers or joggers, both of whom I respect.

I told Starfleet all we had was a boatload of children.  but we're the only ship in the quadrant.

Remember I blogged about that break-in? Here's the damaged fence.

Spock, these trainees of yours, how good are they?

I'm doing this walk fairly slowly because I'm taking pictures. During one such pause, the old man you see-- the dude on the far right-- walked past me and kept on going. Damn you, geezer! I'd've kicked yer old, scrawny ass if I hadn't been saddled with this camera!

how will they respond under real pressure?

We look leftward and take a gander at Seoul. I don't like Seoul much during the day, but it's beautiful at night. Unfortunately, my camera's not good enough to give you decent night photos.

as with all living things, each according to his gifts.

I thought that that old guy would surely stop here and seek blessed relief, but he kept right on going.

One thing I found funny about the sign for the restroom is that it contains a bizarre correction: the word "toilet" is written there now, but when you're close to the sign you can see that it's written over "restroom," which was (is) a perfectly legitimate term for that facility. I've pondered that unnecessary correction for days... the only thing I can conclude is that someone had some leftover money in the park maintenance budget, and had the great idea of telling workers to go change a few signs.

of course, the ship is yours.

A peek through some trees at Seoul, the city with no world-famous nickname. We should give it one. And it shouldn't contain the word "hub."

that won't be necessary.  just get me to Regula One.

It's at about this point that the road begins to sprout little orange nipples. Note their excitement at my presence.

as a teacher on a training mission, I am content to command the Enterprise...

Seoul's vastness, as seen from my Sauron's-eye view. Look carefully and you'll see Frodo and Sam... doing stuff. Stuff that never made it into the final cut of the movies. Stuff that made Gollum, a confirmed homophobe, rasp, "Nassssssssty little hobbitses! We hates 'em!"

but if we are to go on actual duty, it is clear that the senior officer on board must assume command.

Curving rightward now, much to the pleasure of Bush conservatives.

it may be nothing.  garbled communications.  you take the ship...

A tantalizing glimpse of our goal. The princess is trapped therein; our mission is to kill her and take her head back to the prince. We're allowed to keep her tongue as a reward. I'm not so sure about that prince.

Jim.  you proceed from a false assumption.  I am a Vulcan.

The above picture was the result of guilt: I'd been taking so many pictures downhill that I'd forgotten that it's possible to look uphill. Here, then, is a sample of what you see if you look right instead of left: Mother Nature's pubic hair.

I have no ego to bruise.

I should think the meaning of this photo would be obvious: humans in their lofty perch; birdies in their lofty perches. But I've spelled it out for you in case you're that one drooling moron who visits my blog for the occasional fart-and-shit jokes.

you're about to remind me that logic alone dictates your actions?

We're near the top now. This is the bench where I sat down one night and thought about life, the universe, and... her.

I've come to like that bench a lot. I'm amazed that it's almost never occupied when I walk by it.

I would not remind you of that which you know so well.  if I may be so bold...

Passing the benches, we reach the parking lot, which is where most of Namsan's tourists are getting out of cars and buses and pretending they've hiked the entire distance from the foot of the mountain. Above, you see the restaurant where I ate my Chinese food (t'ang-su-yook) the other night. Not a bad deal at W10,000: they give you a lot of food for that price. Not a great deal, either, but better than this place I go to near Anam Station that serves way less for W8,000.

it was a mistake for you to accept promotion.  commanding a starship is your first, best destiny.

The final stretch up Namsan gets much steeper, as you can see. There's a cotton candy vendor, and farther up the stretch is a lady who sells ch'ui-p'o (dried, flattened, sometimes sugared fish), a typical Korean snack I happen to like. I bought some ch'ui-p'o from her the other night, and she talked my ear off about her own exercise program, which sounded remarkably like what I'd done in Switzerland. "I started off doing long distances!" she said, "But soon I realized I just needed to do short distances on a daily basis, and I lost ten kilograms that way!" Yeah, I'm hoping for something similar. Major results won't be visible for months, simply because I have so much damn weight to lose.

anything else is a waste of material.

Huff... puff... the final part of the final stretch. Ass crack's all sweaty. So's everything else. Sometimes people stare at me as I heave myself upward. They're probably wondering how a man could be so sweaty after walking from the parking lot.

I would not presume to debate you.

Ahhhh, the top! There's the pavilion in the distance. Tourists all around, some of whom have come up from the other side via the stairs (beyond the pavilion). The plaza features artists and photographers, all looking to make that extra won. To the left, not visible in this shot, is Seoul Tower. Just a sec--

that is wise.  in any case, were I to invoke logic, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Yeah, here ya' go. The tower. Every city's got to have its phallic symbol. Seoul is blessed with several, and this is one of the most famous.

However, I don't think that "Seoul: City of Dicks!" would go over well as a new nickname for the city. People might get the wrong idea.

or the one.

In the above shot, we've walked past the pavilion (it's to our left) and are staring down at the shop where I get my daily dose of PowerAde. Let me take this opportunity to note that PowerAde kicks ass. I like it better than regular Gatorade, and it's a hell of a lot better than Pocari Sweat. Pocari Sweat is foul shit, and I suspect the word "pocari" is Japanese slang for "scrotal." Pocari does sound suspiciously like "pocket," after all.

And now... the most horrifying photo of all! Scroll down.

you are my superior officer.  you are also my friend.  I have been and always shall be yours.

Here I am, generating liters of my own Pocari Sweat, with what has to be the world's stupidest expression on my face.

Fat people will note with approval that I have mastered the double-chin-hiding technique of placing the camera above me. Actually, I was trying to get a shot of me and the city below us, but only a wee bit of Seoul is peeking out in the upper left corner of the picture.

...and that's all, folks. I hope you enjoyed the foodblogging and the virtual hike up Namsan. If you want to know what it's like to hike back down to Beot'igogae Station, just run through the photos in reverse order.



1 comment:

John McCrarey said...

Yes, it looks like we were laying on the same bench to get that perspective on the tower.