19 (Sat) June 2010
Grilled Milk Chicken
at Peace Dam (WHERE)
-Oksu (Joongang Heights Apts), Seongdong, Seoul, Korea-
with the Family solo
The second day of our two-night camping trip (see previously 1.164 Octopus & Chive Salad).
For dinner, MtG revealed a new dish, which involved marinating chicken breasts in milk to moisturize the meat – Koreans believe that chicken breasts are intolerably dry – then grilling the pieces on skewers. They were moist as intended, though oddly milky in flavor.
We spent the afternoon river trekking along the Bukhan River, creeping ever closer to North Korea.
In the summer of 1985, our family moved from the States to Korea. I was initially placed in a local elementary school.
On the first day, my mother packed me a lunch that included a sandwich and an apple, which didn’t strike me as odd until lunch time, when everyone else in the class – in the entire school – open their lunch boxes of rice and kimchi and side dishes. Already, the students were intrigued by this new kid from a foreign land. The sandwich confirmed how alien I was. (McDonald’s wouldn’t open in Korea until 1988.) When I took a bite of the apple, unpeeled! – even today, Koreans pare the skins with a knife before serving – they roared in horror – “He’s eating the skin! He’s eating the skin!”
I brought a lunch box of rice and kimchi and side dishes every day thereafter – the homogeneity of Korean society compels cultural conformity.
(MtG was in that class, which is where we quickly became best friends. Incidentally, he wasn’t at school on that first day.)
25 years later, at lunch time, on the banks of Bukhan River, a few kilometers short of the DMZ, while the others were boiling instant noodles, I made toasted salami hoagies. I even packed a bread knife, anticipating that I would need to share.