Saturday, June 10, 2006

stuffed and ready for slaughter

I sit here typing these words as my gut hangs low between my thighs like a kilt made of fat and belly hair. Today was a day of hiking and feasting: I trekked over to the domain of Charles of Liminality. Charles had kindly extended the invitation to visit his home, meet the in-laws (they live above him and his wife, Hyun-jin), do a bit of hiking, and then chow down on a feast of hamburgers and chicken breasts.

This morning, I cheated and grabbed a cab to reach Seolleung Station; the driver smiled and told me he'd been a cabbie for only three days. Lucky thing, then, that traffic was great on Saturday morning, outbound from Seoul. I would have been later than I was had this been almost any other day or time. At Seolleung Station, I called Charles and told him I was crossing over to the Bundang Line (a subway spur that leads out of Seoul proper). I missed the first train, which pulled away just as I reached the platform. Caught the next train and met Charles at Ori Station a bit later than anticipated. We drove over to his house, a free-standing residence (with yard and gardens!) that reminded me of a Swiss ski chalet. The house was spacious; Charles and his wife live on the bottom floor while the in-laws occupy the two floors above them.

I had the privilege of meeting the in-laws, who are very kind, friendly people. The next step was to go for a hike, but everyone was wondering, given the thunder and the angry-looking sky, whether we might end up soaked. Charles and I decided to go on ahead, anyway, and our hike took us partway up a small local mountain called Beop Hwa San. Before reaching the top, and before the rain turned truly nasty, Charles managed to snap the following pic, taken while standing at a beautifully maintained gravesite:

Charles, it should be noted, is a mountain goat. Unencumbered by any semblance of fat, he quickly hiked up the mountain while I huffed along slowly and paused at several points to catch my breath. Charles says he has run up the mountain on many occasions, and I believe him. It's not something I ever see myself doing.

The rain was pouring in earnest by the time we hit the ridge-- and then the first summit-- of Beop Hwa San. The lightning, which was flashing from fairly close, convinced us that we probably shouldn't tempt fate by remaining on the ridge, so we headed back down. Charles was disappointed by the weather, but I didn't mind: warmer weather would have been uncomfortable for me, but a cool mountain rain was just the ticket: it counteracted the heat building up inside my furnace of a body.

We made it back down to Charles's house in one piece. I spent some time sipping tea and talking with Mr. Liminality about this and that... and then it was time for lunch.

Charles had prepared quite a feast: more hamburger patties than I have fingers and toes, three kinds of cheese for the burgers, marinated chicken breasts (to be eaten as chickenburgers or separately), home-grown alfalfa, juicy tomatoes, lettuce, condiments, and Charles's specialty: home-baked bread. It's unseemly, perhaps, for a man to compliment another man on his buns, but I hope, Dear Reader, that you'll indulge me this once: Charles's hamburger buns were perfectly shaped, and tasty as hell.

I now present you two pictures of the wholesale slaughter that ensued after Charles fired up his grill:

The above image provides you some idea of what lay on the table. Emmenthal cheese, Havarti cheese, and good old cheddar were all in attendance. You see Hyun-jin's hands cutting into a burger patty that is bedecked with three slices of cheese. Below, we have a shot of yours truly manhandling a squirming burger, also loaded with three cheeses:

I'm not sure how many burgers and chicken breasticles I slaughtered in the end, but we left many a farm animal childless and bereaved today. The rain continued to fall, a living curtain gently puncturing the moment in a billion places, and the forested view from Charles's porch was like a scene from a movie. I admitted my envy on several occasions. Charles smiled. His way of rubbing it in.

Pregnant with food, I sank back into my chair and enjoyed the natural tableau around me.

Surely you don't think this was the end, though!

The capper was dessert, which Hyun-jin made perfectly: strawberry shortcake. The strawberries were fresh-picked from the garden; with a little mashing, they became an exquisite topping for this:

Just stare at the above. The shortcake's consistency was just right: fluffy, but not too light (quite unlike those spongy hockey pucks we eat in the States when we normally make shortcake). While Charles complained that the whipped cream was too sweet, I found it to be just sweet enough. Hyun-jin and I share a sweet tooth, I think.

It was a long, amazing day. Great company and conversation, fantastic scenery, and wonderful weather. Yes, I like rain. I also like cool. Much better than heat and humidity, which are intolerable. Charles and Hyun-jin dropped a severely bloated Kevin off at Ori Station around 4pm, and I trundled on home. As I told Charles, there would be no need to eat dinner tonight. I feel like I've eaten a full-grown dwarf.

Many thanks to my kind hosts, not only for the food and fun, but also for the above pictures. You, Dear Reader, are left to dream.



  1. For the record, you ate four hamburgers and two chicken breasts. Hyunjin was in awe of your prowess at the table. She was also awed that you ate the entirety of the large portion of strawberry shortcake she gave you.

    Me, I was just in awe that you actually made it up the mountain.

    Glad you enjoyed yourself, though. And thanks again for the nutella. Banana, nutella, and peanut butter on a toasted hamburger bun (Hyunjin's idea) is the breakfast of champions!

  2. "Me, I was just in awe that you actually made it up the mountain."

    That sounds like something I'd say. I hope you are kinder to Charles than you were to me. I itch like a mamba jamba. :)

    It's a good thing you ate after you hiked. If what Charles said is true then that would be a lot of extra weight to carry up the mountain with you. I am also in awe. But if I had an option of three kinds of cheeses I may have eaten that much as well.

  3. I hope you are kinder to Charles than you were to me. I itch like a mamba jamba. :)

    Oh, yeah, I completely forgot about that. What was it, genital herpes?

    I guess I'd better break out my talismans and charms...

  4. Mmm, strawberry shortcake...

    I wept when I saw that picture.



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