Several years ago, Henry and I attempted to go to the Korean Food Bazaar at the Korean Church in Shadyside, but it was packed. Just driving by caused my heart rate to skyrocket at the hand of social anxiety. But this year, I was determined! I wanted to eat all of the food that I basically eat everyday, only cooked by real Koreans and not my fake Korean chef Henry.
(He is actually pretty freaking good at cooking Korean cuisine: give the man some gochujang and dangmyeon and he’ll give you a good time. You know, in your mouth. Ugh, you know what I mean.)
Chooch and Judy came too. Chooch was relatively reluctant because he hates most food no matter the ethnicity, but Judy was all in. She even called Henry last night to make sure we were still taking her. Ever since she ate kimbap at Robbie and Nikki’s baby shower here at our house, she has been wanting to try more.
On the way to Shadyside, Judy casually mused that she had never been there.
“Um, didn’t you grow up there?” Henry asked.
Judy considered this and then said, “Oh yeah” and suddenly all these memories came rushing back to her, of dragging her dog to a dog show at the Hunt Armory and falling off a garage roof and going to the hospital.
We got to the church shortly after the food festival started (and after Chooch and I beat Henry and Judy in a race to the ground level of the parking garage – they took the elevator while we stampeded down the steps, and the people in the elevator with Henry & Judy were all, “Aw man” when they saw that they LOST and then accused us of cheating?! Uh sorry guys, get on our level.
It was a whole thing you had to be there.
Anyway! There was already a decent crowd congregating at the church by the time we rolled up so we just started blindly throwing money at the vendors while we had the chance. First we snagged some fish-shaped buns, mung bean jeon, and hotteok which was my favorite thing I ate all day.
Hot Korean pancakes oozing with sugar and honey? YES AND PLEASE MOTHER MAY I HAVE ANOTHER.
I didn’t even get a picture.
Chooch ate his fish bun like it was the created thing he’s ever extracted from a pillowcase after trick or treating.
“See?! I told you red bean is an amazing flavor!” I said.
“This isn’t red bean,” he snarfled around a mouthful of fried dough. “See?” He held it up to show me the beautiful, thick red bean paste all up inside that fish-shaped bun. I insisted that it was indeed red bean paste, to which he cried, “Oh my god, red bean is so good!”
NO SHIT, IDIOT WHITE BOY.
Inside the church was a hot cluster. I just felt like I was in everyone’s way (because I was) and Old Erin probably would have left and sat in the car, but New Erin was all, “I GOT THIS (Henry, hold my hand)!” We got some mul naengmyeon for Judy and cleaned up on various banchan to take home, including lotus root, bellflower, the greatest kimchi I’ve ever tasted this side of Korea, persimmon punch, chappsaltteok, and sikhye (a fucking delicious rice drink).
I was worried that Judy wouldn’t like her mul narngmyeon because it’s a cold dish and the first time I had it (meatless version), I was like “BITCH HEAT THIS UP” but then I loved it.
And Judy did too!
“I like this. I could make it over there in Korea, I think,” she said around a mouthful of perfectly cold noodles. I mean, she likes BIGBANG too so she’s already halfway there.
Henry copied off me and got bibimbap. Also, he bought a package of soondae at the gentle persistence of a woman behind the table and I was like, “Oh god, ok, good luck with that, Hank.” Later, he asked, “So can you eat this? Is there meat in it?”
I was like, “Dude, it’s BLOOD SAUSAGE. It’s so much meat that my stomach hurts even talking about it so please stop. TOFU. SEITAN. TEMPEH. LETTUCE. SOY MILK. LALALALALA.”
When there’s no cereal or grilled cheese option at the Korean food festival.
Basically, Chooch will be living off fish-shaped buns and hotteok if we go to South Korea. There are worse diets out there.
I was practicing how to say things like, “What is that?” this morning but then I realized that if I ask a question in Korean, I’m going to get an answer in Korean and I probably/definitely won’t know what it means. I’m trying, guys. I might need a legit tutor though. I get frustrated very easily which might come as a shock to some.
We stayed for about 2 and a half hours, but if the weather hadn’t been so cold and drizzly, I think we would have camped out a lot longer. I didn’t even get any tteokbokki! (Henry makes it a lot at home though so at least I have that as an option. BUT STILL.)
I refused to leave without at least getting some patbingsu, and I liked it better than the one I had at Sumi’s Cakery, so that was a nice finish to a day of gorging on the food of (wish they were) my people.
We had a great time today, and Judy didn’t even offend anyone! (At least not while I was around. We did leave her unattended for about 30 minutes. Shit…)
Mock my k-diet if you want, but I feel better than I ever have my whole life. Kimchi 4lyfe!