Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The past week was an unusual one, as smack in the middle of it was the Korean Thanksgiving, or harvest festival, known as Chuseok. Though pilgrims and natives are not involved, it does carry some parallels to the American Thanksgiving holiday in that it is a time for food, family, and days off from work!
I did some reading on Chuseok and came to learn that at the time of origin (maybe as early as 57 B.C.), it was all centered around a month-long weaving contest between two teams. At the end of the contest, the team who had woven the most cloth was rewarded with a feast, prepared by the losing team.

Today, there are no weaving contests to speak of, but there certainly are feasts! Koreans celebrate Chuseok by traveling to their hometowns, to be with family, eat mass amounts of traditional food, and celebrate their ancestors. EVERYONE travels on this weekend, which I discovered in real time by finding it impossible to buy a bus ticket out of town, even by the Friday after. Ah well, I thought, I was willing to save further travels beyond the reaches of Pohang for another weekend.

As for us foreigners, we had Tuesday-Thursday off, and we decided to make the most of it by celebrating with a potluck. According to wikipedia, one of the traditional foods that is prepared during Chuseok is is songpyeon, a crescent-shaped rice cake which is steamed upon pine needles. Unfortunately, I did not get to try this particular dish, but one of the Korean teachers, Kang-Mi, who is also my teaching partner, did bring a few delicious Korean dishes for us to try. I will have to ask her for the names once again. One resembled potstickers, filled with pork and rice noodles, to be dipped in a spicy red bean sauce. Another was a spicy cold noodle dish, and another resembled a pancake made with rice flour, seaweed and onion. All were quite delicious.

Throughout the evening, we drank, ate, and played games. We took our time, and Stephanie and Tony did a bang-up job of making sure every course of the meal ran smoothly. The amount of food was overwhelming, but everything was delicious. We paced ourselves between courses with rounds of bananagrams and conversation. It was a lovely evening.

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