Wow! I'm sitting here at my desk with a full tummy and an enormous grin on my face. I just had a rather exceptional lunch. I eat my lunch at the school cafeteria along with the students and the majority of the other staff. It has been a great introduction to Korean cuisine but it can also at times be quite daunting for me. You see, I don't eat seafood. I'm not allergic to it or anything. It's not a strict rule either. If the inclination strikes me then I will indulge in a piece of fish or some Mozambique-style prawns. However it is more a matter of personal taste. I just don't like seafood. Perhaps it comes from having studied marine biology or perhaps it stems from having had pet fish in my youth. Either way, I'm not fond of seafood. I've even boycotted certain family meals because seafood was served. Over the years my family has realised that this is something I will not easily budge on and now cater non-seafood alternatives just for me. Got to love them... and I don't think they mind too much, more prawns for them!
Hmm... I've strayed a bit from my initial point. Oh yes, today's lunch... What made today's lunch rather exceptional was not the food being served but rather the kind service. Wednesday tends to be treat day at the cafeteria and I look forward to seeing what will be put on my tray each week. So far treats have included delights such as fruit salad and chocolate cake (not at the same time though). Today however I was out of luck. They were serving seafood! This normally is not a train smash. In the event that they do serve seafood, I usually just eat the rice, kimchi and soup. Today though they not only served fish but the rice itself was cooked with anchovies! You can imagine my horror as I'm about to take my first bite of rice and there, staring up at me with their sad dead little eyes, are a pile of anchovies! Lunch suddenly seemed rather bleak. It was just going to be soup, kimchi and some sweet potato for me.
Thankfully, Mr Jung, one of my co-teachers whom I absolutely adore, came to my rescue. He's been somewhat of a father figure to me here. He even called to make sure I was okay recently when I fell ill. I really appreciated the gesture considering that I am so far from home and without the comfort of family. Anyway, he left his meal, tracked down the wonderful lady who runs the cafeteria and explained to her that I don't eat fish. She was then nice enough to bring me a bowl of anchovy-free plain rice. I was beyond touched my the gesture from both of them. I hadn't known the reason that he had gotten up until she arrived with the rice. It was so thoughtful of him to consider my dietary preferences and it was so thoughtful of her to indulge me. She even brought me a bowl of this really yummy sweetish dried-seaweed-covered-in-sesame-seeds stuff that I love and when I was leaving, she also offered me some extra sweet potato. So thanks to the kindness of two very thoughtful Korean peers, my lunch went from being bleak to absolutely great. No one can ever fault the South Koreans when it comes to their hospitality and for that I am ever grateful. Its these small gestures that make life here a pleasure.
And finally, on completely an unrelated but happy note, I would like to wish my bearded-lumberjack-loving friend (you know who you are) a very happy birthday and on an unrelated but sad note, to the family of my ex boyfriend, I know that tomorrow is the anniversary of your mother's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with your family at this sad time. Rest in peace Aunty Romilla.