5 (Wed) January 2011
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Korea-
with the Family, solo
For the final meal of GMTD, I returned to the very spot where it began 364 meals ago and ordered the very same meal: grilled pork (dweji) galbi.
Coincidentally, appropriately, poetically, the name of the restaurant Bon-Ga (본가) means “house of origin.”
To celebrate, I was joined by my family, who had often waited (im)patiently during the past year before each meal until I could get a decent shot, as well as a group of close friends, camping cohorts, who had often indulged me in the low-light conditions at campsites by shining their lanterns over the food so that I could get a decent shot. Among the latter, of course, was MtG, who had accompanied me on 66 occasions (18%) throughout the year. By way of comparison, my wife had been with me for 107 meals (29%). Topping the list was my son, DJ, with 195 (53%). Looking back, I’m quite grateful that I was able to make the time to share so many of my dinnertime experiences with them all.
My favorite dish was the jjajang myeon at Da Rae Hyeon (see 1.117 Samseon Jjajang Myeon), which sadly has since changed ownership and the recipe, so I can never experience it again.
The most interesting dish was part of the well-executed but way overpriced multi-course meal that I shared with my wife on her birthday at the fusion restaurant Poom (1.052 Bamboo Shoots in XO Sauce).
Other notables include the Maakouda Sandiwich at Maakouda Sandiwich (1.085 Maakouda Sandiwich), dak galbi at Ongjanggol (1.166 Dak Galbi), grilled eel at Ilmi Jangeo (1.219 Grilled Eel), and mandu at Gamegol (1.248 Wang Mandu), and agu jjim at Wonjo Busan Agu (1.333 Agu Jjim)
My favorite dish BY OTHER was the gimbap by KJA’s nanny (1.200 Gimbap), though mostly for the technique.
In addition to specific dishes, I had many memorable meals, particularly those on camping excursions, such as the trip to Dae Gwan Ryeong (see 1.052 Bamboo Shoots in XO Sauce), where I first met the people who would soon become some of my dearest (or at least most frequent) friends – in fact the same friends who joined me this evening – also Ulleung-Do/Dok-Do (see 1.227 Cabbage with Salty & Sesame Oil).
The best run occurred in mid-March, beginning on March 14 and ending on March 23, bracketed coincidentally on either end with awful cafeteria food from work, but featuring in between a flurry of personal creativity spurred partly by my friend LJY’s visit from the States and encouraged by a brief period of parallel posting on Facebook.
As for source, home-cooked meals outweighed restaurant meals 172 (47%) to 146 (40%), though the ratio is almost exactly even at 172:171 if meals separately categorized as cafeteria, fast food, ready-to-go, and street food are factored into the latter. I had only 18 meals (5%) while camping, a figure I fully intend to quadruple this year.
By restaurant, Bon-Ga was the clear winner with 7 appearances, including tonight.
Although I tend to lean towards non-Korean cuisine when given a choice, Korean was nonetheless the highest represented with 156 meals (43%). Even if default, unplanned meals at home are removed from consideration, that’s still much higher than I would’ve expected. Next in line was American with 56 meals (15%), followed by Chinese with 50 meals (14%). That makes sense in relative terms, but again I’m surprised that the actual numbers, particularly for Chinese, weren’t higher.
By dish, the most frequent items on the dinner table had been jjajang myeon with 8, schnitzel with 8, and oyster sauce dishes with 7.
The most surprising statistic concerned pork, which topped the list of meat types with 76 appearances (21%). It’s surprising because I never thought of myself as a porcine-o-phile, never ordering pig when other animals are on the menu. I suppose it’s a testament to the prevalence of pork in the food here, even when the dish is not ostensibly a pork dish, such as kimchi jjigae, so it’s somewhat difficult to avoid. On the other hand, I had been consciously attempting to reduce my red meat intake overall, although beef’s 73 appearances (20%) would apparently belie that claim. If asked, I usually profess a preference for either poultry or seafood, but poultry only made 71 appearances (20%), 42 (12%) for fish, and 81 (22%) for all other seafood combined (not even 1 for lobster, sadly).
I don’t think that doing this on a daily basis changed my eating habits in any significant way, except that it forced me to eat something for dinner every day, even on occasions when my schedule or state of health or mood might otherwise have prompted me to go without. Ironically, I had developed some kind of throat infection this morning, making it extremely painful to swallow and threatening to derail the whole thing on the last day, but I took a handful of antibiotics and ibuprofen to get me through the meal.
The most positive outcome was that the project enhanced my food styling techniques (or so I would like to think) and food photography skills (or so I would like to think).
Although I didn’t make a concerted effort to improve my skills at food plating or food photography, I’m hoping that the food is starting to look a bit better (1.206 Capellini in Saffron-Tomato Broth) (1.208 Shrimp & Orecchiette Soup) (1.340 Spaghetti Nero di Seppia with Black Olives in Tomato-Parmesan Sauce).
The project also got me into blogging, whatever that’s worth. With respect to the blog, a final statistic concerning the audience: 1,078 pageviews from Korea, 834 from the US, 78 from Canada, 29 from Russia, 17 from Malaysia, 15 from Slovenia, 9 from Denmark, 8 from Poland, 5 from Germany, 3 each from Israel and Japan, 2 each from France and Latvia, and several single entries from other countries throughout the world. Without comments, however, I have no way of knowing whether any of these hits can be attributed to regular readers. LJY was my Number 1 Fan, and perhaps Only Fan, judging by the number of her comments, though not necessarily by the content thereof–still, it’s better to be recognized than adored in the blogging sphere, perhaps. Thanks LJY, for giving me the motivation to keep at it!
A great experience, worth repeating – stay tuned for Cycle 2.