Friday, November 17, 2006


It always seems to work out this way when I'm invited to dinner in Korea: I end up stuffed.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Hodges, his lovely wife, and their two wonderful children this evening. Conversation was comfortable and, as is appropriate in a family of scholars and children, it ranged all over. One minute we're talking Islam and Buddhism; the next we're talking about different kinds of pasta and "The Polar Express." Switching registers on the fly isn't easy when you're interacting with professors at one end of the table and kids at the other end, but I think I managed to keep the different lines of discourse straight in my head. I wasn't entirely successful, though: Dr. Hodges's daughter gave me a look at one point and said, "You talk strange."

The kids are totally bilingual; it was a hoot watching them interact with each other. Dr. Hodges's son is a bundle of energy; his daughter strikes me as very thoughtful (a future academic?).

Dinner was excellent: we started off with a very nice, creamy vegetable soup (I'm guessing broccoli as the main ingredient, but don't quote me on that), accompanied by some delicious homemade bread. "A meal in itself," as Dr. Hodges noted. I had to agree. The main course was bacon-wrapped chicken breast baked with rosemary; along with this were various vegetables: Korean sweet potatoes, squash, and regular potatoes.

At one point during dinner, I suddenly felt claws gently tugging at the fingers of my right hand, which was resting on my thigh. This turned out to be one of the family's two cats, both of which are very friendly. I'm happy to report that, unlike many Korean cats, these cats both have their tails, and the tails are unbroken! I gave both cats the chance to sniff my fingers. They must have decided I wasn't worth killing, because I finished dinner with no further clawing.

Dessert was two kinds of grapes plus chocolate from around the world. Most tasty. Through it all, conversation was pleasant, both erudite and earthy. Very down-home. I came away from dinner with both a full stomach and the impression that I had just been welcomed into a very happy home. Sincere thanks to the good professor and his family for hosting me this evening. I hope one day to repay the favor, though I doubt I can do it by inviting everyone into my studio-sized dorm room.


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