14 (Wed) September 2011
-Yangjae, Seocho, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
Introducing the newest item on the food court menu at Costco Korea: the calzone. It comes with ground beef and bits of sausage (the kind found on their combination pizzas), along with minced onions and bell peppers and a whole lot of oregano, mixed with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella in a folded pizza crust. 4,000 won. It wasn’t entirely awful, just a little awful.
If it sells well, then I anticipate the bulgogi calzone to inevitably follow – and that will be awful entirely.
Speaking of awful, the loyal patrons of Costco Korea have created their own unique side dish to accompany the calzone or whatever they’ve purchased to eat at the food court. Concocted on the spot from the complimentary condiments available, it’s nothing more than ketchup, mustard, chopped onions, and sweet pickle relish mixed together into a reddish-yellowish-whitish-greenish mash. They do this on a separate plate, requested for this very purpose, necessary because they make so much of it, a fey look on their faces as they pile it on, most of which they’ll throw away. Not only does it taste vile and look disgusting, it’s also wasteful. Awful. Without exaggeration, 9 of 10 tables feature this monstrosity. Costco Korea probably goes through more ketchup, mustard, onions, and relish than all the other Costcos throughout the world combined.
In essence, it’s a kind of banchan (반찬), the small side dishes that come as a matter of course with any Korean meal (kimchi being the most common). By force of extended habit, banchan are also served with any non-Korean meal here in Korea: Italian restaurants have pickles, Chinese restaurants have pickled daikon, even Indian/Thai/Brazilian restaurants have been forced to create their own spicy/sour banchan, Mexican restaurants are fortunate to have salsa and jalapeno peppers that already fit the bill. Koreans traveling abroad are notorious for carrying around single-serving packages of kimchi, which are conveniently sold at the airport.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)