Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meeting my Cousin

I met my first cousin, DongWook, for the first time two weeks ago.  It may sound strange to those of you who are more family oriented, but being that I grew up in the States, and he grew up in Korea, and that flights over the Pacific are extremely expensive, we simply haven't had an opportunity to meet until recently.  

We talked on the phone a few times before meeting, and the only pictures that I have seen of him are the ones that were taken when he was a little boy, so I was clueless regarding his appearance.  My first impressions of him when I first answered the door during our first meeting was that there is no doubt he is my first cousin.  He strikingly resembled my little brother, Jon, in the face.  His mother is my mother's older sister.  I've seen recent pictures of my Aunt, and she looks like an older version of my mother.  Dongwook strongly resembles both of them.  He is three years older than me, as he is 32.   

I was fortunate that he is naturally outgoing, and easy to talk to, so I immediately felt comfortable.  I really don't have much to write about on this topic, but to say that he is a delight to be around, and the two times we saw each other, we stuffed ourselves with food until we couldn't move.  The first time we ate Sashimi, and for the second meeting, we ate grilled Eel, along with an eel stew, which was among the best things I ate while being in Korea.  The eel was obviously alive and freshly filleted seconds before being put on our grill, because upon being placed on the hot surface, the meat began to twitch.  The hearts were left on the fillets, and they were still beating.  I've never seen anything like it.  The meat had such a smooth taste, and was extremely delicious.  

I pride myself in my ability to eat with chopsticks.  I've heard numerous compliments on my ability from several Koreans.  I believe that I can pick up absolutely anything with my chopsticks.  And for some reason, I struggled with the sashimi, and the eel.  Dong Wook wasted no time making fun of my perceived lack of ability with the utensil.  Whenever a piece of fish or eel would fall from my chopsticks, he would hold up his spoon, point to it, and in a humorously sarcastic tone, say in a Korean accent, "This is a spoon...  It's a very useful tool...  Even I need it sometimes."  His English was very good.

We mainly talked about our two families, and laughed a lot.  Both meetings were wonderful, and it was as if I had known him my whole life.  It was amazing that we had that comfort from the outset, despite meeting for the first time after all these years.  I guess that's the power of blood kinship. 

I ordered food via delivery for the first time yesterday.  My Korean has improved, and I am now able to say my address with little trouble.  I attempted to order fried chicken, which Koreans do extremely well, as it tastes just like it does back home.  Apparently, all types of food are delivered here in Korea, and it is relatively fast, and efficient.

Each day, several menus are taped to my door, and one particular menu for a restaurant serving fried chicken caught my eye.  I prefer dark meat, and on the menu, there was an option for drumsticks only.  It read in Korean, "Stick."  I saw a picture of wedge fries, and said to myself, "This looks delicious."  These were labeled in Korean, "Wedge."  I felt courageous, so I dialed the number, and upon hearing a greeting a boldly ordered, "Wedge hangae (one), Stick set hangae, Juseo (give me please)."

"Easy enough," I thought to myself.  

Then I heard, "Alsdkfla laskdfsalifjsad  kmksdfjoasijeowinf.  Laskfhoiw auehf lsakjdfn lskdjfosnosnd???"  That wasn't exactly what he said, but it may as well have been that.  

I froze.  The only thing i could think of saying was, "Neh (yes)."

And once again, "Lskdfosijfow kenfldskhfo weif.  Hlskdnfowa ienf lskdnfoiwe nflksdnfoweinfwl eknfoiwneafow. Lenfoiwenfoei wwoeifnowiejfo iwejfoiwejfoiw enfoiwejfoiwej foiwejfoiwejf???"  

"Uh... Neh."

And yet again, "Kasjf lskdjflsdjfoiwejf, soidfjoiwejfeksdmf lsfijweoijfoiwejf.   Jsfioiwejh wliefjoiwejf owiefjoiwe nfuehfwjenfeuhr???"

Awkward pause followed by, "Neh."

This went on for what seemed to be a very long time, until finally, I heard a price.  I told him my address, and we hung up.

After that, I was worried that it may not even come, so I would have been happy with anything, much less the correct order.  After less than 30 minutes, my doorbell rang, and the attendant handed me a box full of chicken.  It wasn't what I intended to order, but it was still good.  I was a little disappointed that the order didn't include the potato wedges, but it was still delicious, and I felt a little more confident in my ability to order delivery here in Korea.    

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