Home: Where the Heart… and Hate is

“So much love and hate.” Words from my father at dinner two nights ago.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh because that’s exactly what I felt I needed to write about next.

 

We all have our issues with our hometowns. Too small, too big, too indifferent, too intimate. And the relationship between Seoul and me is no different.

 

For example, LOVES:

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

Transportability

Transportability

ddukboki

More food. [떡복이/ddukboki]

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Did I mention food?

There are so many reasons why being home = happiness.

 

At the same time, there are moments where being home can bring about a sense of lowness.

 

Here’s where I get real (welcome to the new-and-improved blog?)

 

A few things make S. Korea less palatable. Hard to believe with some of those photos I just showed, I know.

 

1. The land of couples

Don’t believe me? In 10 seconds, I snapped these four photos.

They're everywhere.

They’re everywhere.

 

With the Westernization of its culture, Koreans began to embrace romance wholeheartedly. A little obsessively so. Now, wherever you go, you will find yourself surrounded by couples, arm-in-arm. For a single lady, it’s a bit trying. I may sound bitter, and you can judge me for that, but I do enjoy being alone right now. That gets shaken when I realize I’m the only solo person on the street.

2. The image paradigm

Even after years of being in a career where one’s physical image is scrutinized, I feel the most insecure when I’m in Seoul. Women here are just naturally tiny, and somehow I didn’t get those genes. I grew up in a city that didn’t carry my size in clothing. I was taller than most. While those two facts are now false with the passage of time, the warped self-image still takes hold: I need to diet. Why am I so large? How do I look like her? I can’t possibly be attractive in this country.

 

While I was reflecting on this, thankfully, another fact came to mind.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

– Psalm 139:13-14

 

This home is not my home forever. I don’t write that because I know I’m returning to the States. I write this knowing that I have faith in a God who gives me a greater purpose than looking like the elevated example of beauty. He sees me as beautiful, born to belong to Him, and better for that.

 

 

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It’s time to enjoy the city and all I love.

 

The First Time I Took Pictures of Food

You know who they are. You may even be one. They’re the person sitting at the table next to you, blinding you with their flash (if they’re fairly new at this) or exclamining, “Don’t take a bite yet! I need a picture!”

I have adamantly refused to be a phood photographer (food fotographer?) despite the many restaurants I’ve patronized. For me, the memory of a meal is powerful enough that I don’t need to hold onto the image. Nor do I ever go back and look at pictures of plates. Food porn? Nope, not aroused.

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This week, I broke my self-promise.

In two days, I had two of the best meals I’ve had in the Capital Region. Each made up of multiple courses. Each with carefully chosen wine pairings (or beer, if your tummy wanted hops). Each wowing me with the rich flavors and the delicate notes.

(Here’s where some of you might get a little too excited, in my humble opinion):

1st course: delightfulness I still dream about

The rest of the 5 farm-to-table courses

Braised short rib atop celery puree. Fried leeks crown the course.

Yes. I took photos. Gahh!

 

The first meal was a collaboration between Creo and All Over Albany. We heard from local farms in my inaugural farm-to-table dinner. I could go on and on about the food, but just check out the menu here.

Hearing from Creo’s owner & chef and local farmers

Then I attended my first ever dinner party at a new friend’s new home. The Culinary Institute of America graduate took my breath away with her elegance, thoughtfulness and creativity in this event. Truly an event.

A gorgeous place setting. Told you it was legit.

Party of Twelve (not Five)

The lovely hostess serving her selected wine

I couldn’t help but be unfaithful to myself during these meals. Somehow – before the first course was even served – my camera was in one hand, my iPhone in the other.

 

But I wasn’t snapping shots because I had never eaten food like this before.

The plates were unique. The bites, blissful. The gastronomic value, sky-high. However, here’s why I adored these two meals so dearly.

New foodie co-adventurer

Fussylittleblog + me + friend Evan

Hostess with the most-est ❤

It’s the people who made these plates worth saving. The love and passion in each dish, the careful planning of all the courses, the fascinating conversation over the cuisine: these are the snapshots of the night that I don’t want to lose.

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Now it’s time to put away my camera.

 

At least, until the next dinner party.