Friday, October 06, 2017

stewing in the office

A coworker documented the putting-together of today's budae-jjigae lunch, which almost everyone seemed to love:

One employee described it as "the best budae-jjigae I've ever eaten," which was high praise. The coworker who took the photos (she sent me nine; I'm displaying only one) went back for seconds and thirds. Another coworker said he normally avoided budae-jjigae, but that he'd have some "because you made it." A few people had only a single bowl; one coworker, recently back from Japan, where he had eaten a ton of salty food, said he wouldn't be able to take the Korean stew without suffering heart palpitations. A shame, that.

A single bokkeum pan of budae was enough to serve the entire office; I had prepped twice as much in case people got super-hungry, but I think that, however much people liked today's stew, this was probably not their favorite Kevin-crafted dish. I'll be taking home the raw ingredients and making another batch of the stew for myself, and I'll consume it over the course of next week. We have a short week thanks to the national holiday of Hangeul Day, which is Monday: it's the day on which South Korea celebrates the invention of hangeul, or the Korean alphabet. The writing system was developed and promulgated by King Sejong and his council in the mid to late 1440s; originally called Hunmin Jeongeum, or roughly, "correct sounds to edify the people," the alphabet helped, at least somewhat, to democratize knowledge: before the invention of hangeul, the written language on the peninsula was Chinese, which was much harder to learn, thus making it the sole province of the rich, the educated, and the privileged. Koreans call hangeul a "scientific" alphabet, which it sort of is. It has flaws and limitations, to be sure, but it perfectly captures Korean phonemes, even if it's a disaster for rendering the sounds of other languages like English and French (strangely, hangeul is great for rendering Spanish).

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