So last week our coworkers came for dinner. It was supposed to be a leaving party for our supervisor who recently handed in her notice for various complex reasons, but in the end she didn't come.
We planned to make a curry as Tom's mum sent us a plethora of Indian spices and Tom is an amazing- shall we say 'currier'! We invited them for this specific reason and there was an excited buzz around the teachers room 'ooh we are going to the waeguk's house'!!!
Later in the week over lunch, Lucy (the youngest of the group) chirped up that they would all much prefer another spaghetti dinner! We laughed at how last time they had visited, Lucy had asked if she could take home leftovers and we had giggled as though she was joking but she had apparently been very upset we had not taken her seriously! So we were beaten into submission and changed the plan to spaghetti. They wanted to come over before we started to cook so they could learn.
I am not sure why they don't care for curry. Tom and I discussed it and I think Koreans very much like to stick to the order of things and there are only a handful of Indian restaurants in the whole area. I don't think Indian food is high on the Korean agenda, so pasta it was.
When they arrived they brought an array of fresh fruit gifts which is a traditional Korean greeting when visiting someones home. Last time they came they gave us a 32 pack of toilet roll which was unexpected to say the least but very appreciated.
We started to cook. There were five Korean women all huddled around Tom as he put the oil into the pan...ooh the anticipation. I think they find our cooking fascinating as the younger women generally don't know how to cook until they are due to be married and certainly then only traditional Korean dishes for the family. Lucy was tentatively watching as she had so much enjoyed the spaghetti before. We explained that we were going to make a basic tomato sauce which we would blend down to make a smooth covering for the spaghetti, but this time there would be no mince (mainly as last time it was so expensive).
We ate bruschetta as a starter, however the bread was not toasted due to the lack of grill or oven in any Korean kitchen. We have found a really nice local bakery where we can get fresh baguettes, so we sliced that up and they went to town spooning fresh tomato and cucumber on their bread and dipping it in balsamic vinegar. This seemed to literally fascinate them which was a strange feeling as it is something so basic to us!
When we served the pasta we were all huddled round tucking in. I was thinking... 'It could do with some grated mature cheddar, damn Korea's lack of cheese', and then Lucy said- and I laugh now thinking about it, 'It's a little bland'?!
Tom and I narrowly avoided snorting our spaghetti through our nose but no one else seemed to react. Then Miju, our lovely new supervisor, took to damage control and said 'I think what Lucy means is that normally when you eat out in Korea the food is very salty but this is a healthy food'.
Lucy however did not add any further comments but ate her pasta with some enthusiasm. I can only assume there was some kind of translation problem and she couldn't have meant that literally.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it and said they were going to make pasta for their family.
We took the above picture after dinner and everyone looks happy. Needless to say, we felt a bit put out and as though the evening was not as successful as the previous spagbol dinner. I think when living in Korea you need to learn not to take offense in any situation as not only can Koreans be very abruptly honest, they can also use very inappropriate words at the funniest of moments! This has not been the first instance!
There is a happy ending to this sorry tale. The next morning Lucy was tucking into the left overs for breakfast in the teachers room. She had not forgotten to bring her Tupperware this time! It obviously wasn't too bad after all!