Cycle 13 – Item 365
5 (Thu) January 2023
at No Gyeong Seong
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
So busy these days that I completely forgot about the significance of tonight’s meal: the final dinner of the cycle. Not unprecedented – happened 3 consecutive years from Cycles 7-9, during GMTD’s long informal hiatus – but I wasn’t actively engaged with the blog during that time. At least the meal represents what I was actually eating on an otherwise insignificant Thursday evening – as the blog is intended to show – without regard for a GMTD milestone.
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CYCLE 13 WRAP
The year was a blur, generally and gastronomically.
In terms of numbers, the pandemic got much worse than 2021 at the start of 2022 – in fact, the whole family was infected by Covid-19 by March 4 (see 13.058 Real Fried (Chicken)), when Korea reported a then-record of 266,838 new cases, 2 weeks prior to the final peak of 404,668 cases on March 19 – but frankly it felt kinda ho-hum by that point – in fact, each of us bounced back after a few hours of mild fever/headache/lethargy, and spent the remainder of the family quarantine playing board/card games together, including Organ Attack (obvious irony intended). Despite the relative normalization of the pandemic, I wasn’t yet so excited to explore new dishes or new restaurants.
Still, I did have spurts of enthusiasm to hone my skills in various areas, such as hand-made pizza (see from 13.008 Pizza with Anchovies, shallots, Pecorini Romano to 13.037 Pizza Alpha), meatless burgers (see from 13.066 Chicken Burger to 13.209 Salmon Burger), home-style Chinese (see from 13.150 Geon Dubu Bokkeum to 13.245 Fried Rice), as well as KSCX (see 13.073 Spenatsoppa, 13.095 Smörgås Jordnötssmör och Sylt) – at least until September.
But then at the office, towards the end of Q3 (coinciding with the start of the fall academic semester), I took on ever-heavier loads of work, including full responsibility for all engagements relating to international schools (book fairs!), and the stress immediately weighed me down. For the first time in 13 years, I began to sense monotony/apathy when eating, which had previously provided relief/respite/rejuvenation, especially when work was at its worst.
Out of 365 days, only 177 meals (48%) were home/camp-cooked, perhaps the lowest prior to 2014 (after which I was working for WHO and thus on the road a lot). 10 of the 177 were cooked by others. Tellingly, 29 of the by-me 167 were instant or kit-based, leaving a pathetic 138 meals cooked by me from scratch. 188 meals (52%) were prepared commercially, eaten at a restaurant or at home via delivery, perhaps again another post-2014 record, not one that I’m proud of.
As such Cycle 13 ended with a fizzle.
BEST DISH BY ME
If I had to single out a dish, though not particularly impressed by anything that I made this year, I suppose that the Niçoise was among the better ones, as it was light, healthy, tasty, sophisticated, well executed, nicely plated.
While the dishes below weren’t all that great individually, they represent together a Cantonese-ish spread that I worked hard to develop though several iterations over the course of a few months.
BEST DISH BY OTHER
BEST RESTAURANT DISH
From the outset, our primary objective in visiting Osaka had been food – but never in a million years could anybody have predicted that the best meal would be encountered at a hole-in-the-wall Sichuanese joint discovered in passing by trough a back alley, far from the main action. Only DJ and I were there to enjoy it.
The best part of the meal was sharing it with DJ, who doesn’t much hang out with his old man these days. Even better, we walked around town after dinner for further food exploration before going back to the hotel, where W and IZ were already asleep.
MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)
(See also FOOD GLOSSARY)