So I learned recently that my home town Cheltenham is getting a Carluccio’s Italian restaurant, and I couldn’t have been more excited because it’s one of my favourite places to eat. And I realised that over the past couple of years there have been so many great additions to Cheltenham. After literally years of wishing for an H&M, one finally opened in 2013; Yo Sushi appeared to bring good sushi into the town (it was sad to say goodbye to Pizza Hut, but you can’t have everything); and Patisserie Valerie provided everyone with temptation to spend too much money on delicious pastries. There’s even a new Caribbean restaurant opening soon, which is very exotic and exciting.
Despite the great, and increasing, variety in Cheltenham, there are still a few eateries and shops which I’d love to see come to Cheltenham. Here’s my wishlist:
Yes, it would cause us to spend ridiculous amounts of extra money, but it would be worth it. Toasties, hot wraps, super-food salads, and don’t forget super-trendy kale crisps.
Another perfect lunch spot if you’re looking for a treat after a bad morning at work.
3) Krispy Kreme
I know you can get them from Tesco, but it’s not the same as having a whole Krispy Kreme cafe, with a complete selection of delicious doughnuts to choose from.
A high street fashion shop with such a good range of clothes, it would be amazing to have a Zara in Cheltenham. Please…
5) Fro Yo
Frankly I don’t care what type of Frozen Yoghurt place it is, as long as it’s good.
6) Ed’s Diner
Firstly we need an Ed’s because it’s a cool retro-style diner which does the most amazing milkshakes ever (and it’s not too expensive either). But secondly because there’s one in Gloucester, which just makes me jealous that they have one, and we don’t.
7) Gourmet Burger Kitchen
It would be good to have a good burger restaurant, especially after last year when burgers seemed to increase in popularity, with new restaurants and types popping up everywhere and giving me serious burger-envy.
The first ever Korean Ikea opened recently and caused such traffic jams on the surrounding roads that it faced a business suspension. Now I’m not saying that I want that to happen in Cheltenham, but I definitely wouldn’t mind a store opening locally at all…
After the success of Yo Sushi, I think another Japanese restaurant would go down well in Cheltenham. Especially as at Wagamamas you would be less likely to end up going bankrupt after spending too much money without knowing how (damn the revolving sushi belt at Yo Sushi).
10) Toys R Us
The place where both adults and kids to enjoy shopping and have fun. Perfect.
That’s my Top Ten Wishlist for Cheltenham. Don’t get me wrong, I love the independent shops, cafes, and restaurants that Cheltenham has to offer, but if any of these places was opened in Cheltenham, I’d be extra happy. Fingers crossed for 2015…
I’m feeling very nostalgic (and hungry) today, so I thought I’d share this list: a collection of foods which are no longer available and which I miss dearly. (The original article which I wrote on Buzzfeed can be found here, but I thought I’d recreate it on my blog for all you foodies.)
1. Citrus Polos
These were so sharp they made your tongue hurt and turned your mouth a horrific yellow/green colour (especially if you ate a whole packet in one go like I did). But they were so good.
2. Mint Skittles
The best mints ever. I seem to remember that the blue colours were the best, and the green the worst. Way better than chewing-gum.
3. 3D Doritos
3D crisps just makes things more fun. And they were obviously delicious too- they’re Doritos after all.
4. Mini Hoola-Hoops
I don’t know why mini hoola-hoops were so much better than the regular kind, but they were, and they had so much more flavour. But you couldn’t stick them on your fingers like rings, as you can with the regular kind, which is a negative I suppose…
5. Shakey Jake Milkshake
Shakey Jake milkshakes were delicious, and they came in cute bottles. Double the goodness.
6. Campino Sweets
Hard-boiled sweets aren’t usually that exciting, but Campinos were so good. I actually got given something very similar in Korea last week and was beyond excited.
7. Panda Pops
The classic kid’s fizzy drink- I used to buy these everyday from school for about 20 pence. Just amazing flavours, the ‘strawberry jelly’ I remember was particularly good… Probably full of artificial sugars and E numbers, but we didn’t care.
8. Cadbury’s Marble
A mix of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and praline is clearly a match made in heaven- why did Cadbury’s ever stop making these bars?
9. Ben and Jerry’s Fossil Fuel
Fudge swirls, sweet-cream ice cream, cookie pieces and fudge dinosaurs to make it unique- I wish Ben and Jerry’s would bring back Fossil Fuel…please.
10. Ice Cream Flavour Chewits
The best flavour of Chewits out there, hands down.
11. Baked Bean Pizza
It might sound weird, but this pizza was so yummy. I would kill to be able to have one of these again.
12. Starburst Joosters
Similar to Jelly Beans, and so good. Please Starburst, bring back Joosters!
13. Cadbury Snaps
Pretty much chocolate in the shape of Pringles- addictive and delicious. The only downside was accidently eating a whole box in one go…
14. Fruit Allsorts
Allsorts without the liquorice- just amazing.
15. Flake Snow
Anything with white chocolate is always amazing, and this was no exception. It was like a regular Flake, only better.
16. Cadbury’s Dream Egg
White chocolate egg filled with creamy white chocolate. The sweetest, sickliest, and best mini-Easter egg ever. And way better than ordinary Dream bars.
17. Bisc &…
Biscuit topped with your favourite chocolate bar? Yes please.
18. Cadbury’s Fuse Bar
A chocolate bar filled with nuts, fudge, raisins and cereal bits- it’s no surprise that there have been campaigns to bring these bars back to the shelves!
19. Flavoured Coke
Coke and lime… coke and lemon… vanilla coke… Sometimes you can find one of these flavours but they’re so rare. So much better than plain old coke.
20. Lucky Charms
Ok, I know you can find Lucky Charms in some shops these days, but they’re always hugely overpriced- I don’t want to pay £6 for a box of cereal… Please bring them back properly, and for a normal price!
There are many more foods which I miss and wish would make a comeback, but these in particular would go down a treat! If you can think of any more forgotten gems, please leave a comment below…
It’s December, it’s snowy and it’s time to start feeling Christmassy (and to give yourself an excuse to watch Home Alone and Elf in class). And while Christmas might not be the biggest holiday in Korea, Pizza Hut has still decided to celebrate in style…
With a limited edition, special, three- layered Christmas Tree Box. What better way to get into the festive spirit than to order a takeaway in a tiered box made to look like a Christmas Tree?!
After closer inspection, it looks like you choose your pizza to make the bottom layer, some chicken for the middle, and finish you meal with a salad- the star at the top of the ‘tree’.
I’ve spoken before about the creativity of pizza in Korea- cranberry crusts, cheesecake crusts, heart-shape designs, to name a few inventive ideas- and this Christmas-edition from Pizza Hut just confirms that Korea is the country for weird, wacky, and wonderful pizza.
Will I get a Christmas-Tree Box Delivery on Christmas Day? Who knows… But I do know that Pizza Hut have invented a Christmas Tree far more delicious than I’ve ever seen before.
All countries have good and bad points, things which we can either complain about or praise. And while Korea has it’s faults, today I’m going to focus on the good things: 10 things which give Korea definite cool points.
To the misery of Oreo-lovers everywhere, this cereal has been discontinued in every country…apart from South Korea. I regularly see it featured on lists along the lines of ‘foods we miss which no longer exist’. Well, come to Korea and stock up…
Umbrella Plastic Protectors
Ever had the problem of your umbrella dripping everywhere while you carry it awkwardly around a shop? Not a problem in Korea- stick your umbrella into the stand, pull it out and it’s in a perfectly shaped umbrella-plastic-bag. Finally, an easy way to hold your umbrella, without leaving large puddles wherever you walk. This is an invention which England could do with copying…
Sure, you can get Bubble Tea in other countries. In fact, it’s a new and ‘trendy’ thing in the UK- for an extortionate price, that is.
In Korea, there are Bubble Tea cafes around every corner (not just a restricted number of exclusive cafes like in the UK), and most importantly, they’re cheap. Cheaper than a cup of coffee, in fact.
Ahead of the trends, lower on the prices. Go Korea.
Can we just talk about the variety/ cheapness of socks in Korea? I could literally buy a pair every day and not run out of designs. Plus there’s the choice: trainer socks, fluffy socks, socks with animal ears on. Socks have never been so exciting. (Ditto smartphone covers- endless designs and cheap. It’s tempting to buy a different cover for every day of the week).
Pizza Take-Out Tray
Papa John’s has just made pizza delivery more exciting- a three-layered pizza box, with one layer for pizza, another for sides & dip, and a final layer for a cookie pizza dessert. A 3-course meal in one takeout box = one pretty impressive invention.
And, it’s only available in Korea.
Clean, with working Wi-Fi, coffee and vending machines, and actual shops everywhere. In Korea, walking around subway stations is definitely more fun (and more likely to make you spend unnecessary money).
And let’s not forget the screens where you can find out information, or even better, play games and watch sports.
24 Hour Convenience Stores
The practicality of having a 24-hour store on pretty much every corner can’t be beaten. And they aren’t only good for buying emergency milk for breakfast. They have everything: food, drinks, medicines, alcohol, first-aid stuff, even emergency underwear.
On top of this, they have a hot-water stations and microwaves, so you can make hot food/drinks. Instant meals and coffee at 3 in the morning? No problem. That’s convenience on a whole new level…
If you get hungry when you shop, it’s no problem in Korea. You don’t have to buy an overpriced meal from a small cafe with minimal choice. No, there’s an entire food court with so many options it’s usually hard to decide what to buy.
What a way to make a trip to the supermarket more enjoyable!
The most fun you’ll ever have in a cafe. Again, Korea is ahead of the trend with these cafes- in London, a cat cafe has recently opened and is such a phenomenon that there’s long waiting list to be able to visit. Imagine the excitement if someone opened a dog cafe…
In Korea, you simply pop to your local cafe any day of the week. Another win for Korea.
It might be sweet, artificial coffee, but in my opinion, getting free coffee at the end of a meal is pretty great. Even better are the places where you can get an ice lolly at the end of your meal.
A definite way to ensure my return to a restaurant…
I think it’s fair to say that these are 10 things which Korea definitely does well. I would have mentioned 50 pence sushi, but I know I’ve raved about that before…
So, if you’re having a bad day full of negative feelings towards Korea, go out, buy yourself some nice socks and visit an animal cafe to cheer you up… That will definitely soften the blow of any negative feelings…
Koreans can be pretty creative and original when it comes to snacking, as I wrote about here. And there is no better example of their innovative ideas than looking at their amazing ice lollies: exciting flavours, imaginative designs, and a huge selection at every store. And, most importantly, they’re (on the whole) delicious.
Let’s have a look at some of the best Korean ice lollies, and exactly why they’re so great:
A half-ice-cream half-milkshake, creamy, sweet and delicious. It’s way cheaper than going to your local cafe for a milkshake, and tastes just as good.
Jaws Ice Lolly
Top marks for originality with this one. Not only named after ‘Jaws’ but actually made to resemble a shark’s mouth. Pretty random, but it’s fun and it tastes nice too, so you can’t go too wrong with it!
Corn Ice Cream
Another creative design with these lollies- not only corn-flavoured, but made to look like a real piece of corn on the cob and filled with cream. Why you would associate ice cream and corn is anyone’s guess, but at least it’s unique!
Watermelon Ice Lolly
Another replica, this one a bit more normal than corn on the cob! It’s a cool design, and the makers have even gone so far as to recreate little watermelon pips inside the ice lolly. And it doesn’t just look good, it’s also yummy and refreshing- the whole package.
Melon Ice Lolly
I love melon, so I was so excited to see all the melon-flavoured things in Korea. And the ice lollies are as good as expected! This one has an almost creamy texture, which I found an unexpected, but pleasant surprise.
Disney’s Frozen Ice Cream
Because who doesn’t love ‘Frozen’? (Especially in Korea where the majority of children are borderline obsessed). It’s certainly a way to ensure that children beg their parents for this ice cream over the others. Who cares what’s inside, when Elsa is on the packaging?!
Chelsea FC Ice Cream
Another branded ice-cream, this one a bit more random as I’m sure there aren’t too many Chelsea FC supporters living in Korea. You can also find other teams like Manchester United and Arsenal. Maybe there’s the hope that children will enjoy the ice-cream and start supporting the football team on the wrapper…
Squeezy Ice Lollies
A lot of the ice lollies come in these plastic tubes, and you have to kind of squeeze them up. While it might not be the easiest way to eat an ice lolly, it does have the advantage that the thing doesn’t melt all over you within seconds during the hot summer months. And, it’s a better invention than cardboard tubes, which get all soggy and wet from melted ice-lolly.
Fudge Ice Lolly
If you’ve never had one of these, try one now. They are so creamy and taste exactly like liquid fudge. Definitely one of the best ice lollies I’ve ever had, and not too sinful either. These need to start being exported to England before I go home…
Choco Fudge Ice Lolly
Not quite as good as the fudge ice lolly, but good all the same. A nice chocolate exterior, with a yummy fudge filling. It has a consistency somewhere between an ice lolly and an ice cream (much like the fudge version), and it’s a good medium. Another win.
Fish-Shaped Ice Cream
The fact that you have an ice cream which is made to look like a fish doesn’t surprise me any more, which might be a sign that I’ve lived in Korea quite a while. A wafer exterior, filled with ice-cream and red-bean filling, I quite like this ice cream. But that is probably because I’m a big fan of red-bean; if you’re not, then this isn’t the choice for you (and stay away from the other, many, red-bean-flavoured ice lollies too!)
Mojito Ice Lolly
This is one of my favourites. It isn’t alcoholic, unsurprisingly, but I love it (nearly) as much as I love a real mojito. Flavoured with lemon and lime, it’s so refreshing in summer. The best cocktail-replica I’ve ever tasted, for sure.
There are so many more ice lollies which could be added to this list: coffee-flavoured, every fruit-flavour under the sun, weird flavours like cheese, and endless shapes, sizes and designs. I think it’s fair to say that there’s an ice cream to suit everyone, and I’m very happy to say that there are many to suit me…
When it’s cold in the evening, there’s nothing better than a warming dessert. Well, actually, perhaps the best thing is a guilt-free warming dessert. I’m a huge fan of apple pie, apple crumble, apple strudel, basically anything apple-flavoured. But, it wouldn’t be too healthy to eat these every night. And let’s face it- the best part of these puddings is the sweet apple filling. So I decided to recreate my favourite apple desserts, minus the unhealthy pastry part.
What was I left with? A completely innocent apple treat, which you can enjoy any night of the week. After all, according to that famous saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away…
Here is the recipe for my sin-free stewed apples. Simple, quick and delicious (I apologize for the lack of photos, I got too excited whilst cooking/ eating to remember to take any).
Ingredients (for 2 or 3 servings):
Apples- 4 large
Water- 150 ml
Cinnamon- 2 large tablespoons
Brown sugar/ Honey/ Sweetener- 2 large tablespoons.
1) Peel the apples and chop them into small chunks
2) Put them in a large pan, and sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar/ sweetener/ honey.
3) Pour on the water- it doesn’t look like a lot, but it is enough once it has started cooking. If you need, you can always add more later.
4) Turn the heat on high until the water is boiling high up the pan and covering the apples.
5) Turn down the heat slightly, but make sure the water is still bubbling enough to cook all of the apples. Cook at this temperature for about 15 minutes, or until your apples are soft.
6) Take the apples off the heat. You can serve as they are, or if you prefer a softer texture (as I do), mash with a fork or potato masher, until they are at the consistency you desire.
If you want to make the dessert a little naughtier, add a topping like custard, ice cream, peanut butter, whatever you desire! Or, eat alone for the perfect, warming, healthy dessert. It couldn’t be easier.
Korea is known for having low obesity levels, with only an estimated 4% of people being obese, much lower than the 35% of Americans, or 25% of Brits. It’s true that the percentage of overweight Koreans is increasing, but nowhere near as drastically as other Western countries. And I don’t find the trend at all surprising; In fact, I’ve found it a lot easier to maintain a healthy-eating lifestyle since living in Korea.
While it may be true that if I lived in Seoul, I’d be a lot more tempted by unhealthy foods due to the abundance of Western cafes and restaurants, as it is where I live in Wonju, the majority of food places are Korean and therefore offer much healthier menus. Eating out at restaurants, which in England would lead to large calorie-and-fat laden meals, can be just as healthy an option as eating at home because there is always a healthy choice on the menu.
That’s not to say that the unhealthy alternatives aren’t there to choose from; you can still find fried chicken, huge fried donkas, or greasy fried rice, which obviously aren’t as good for your waistline. But, as a whole, Korean food is decidedly more guilt-free than Western food. And luckily, it also happens to be tasty and delicious!
Here are some of the reasons which it’s easier to stay safely on the healthy wagon in Korea:
The most obvious first- Korean meals. Compared to Western meals from around the world (pizza, hot dogs, burgers, fish-and-chips, pies, curries, mac-and-cheese…), Korean meals are decidedly healthy. Soups and stews filled with vegetables; low-fat noodle or rice based meals; barbecue with salad on the side instead of bread rolls, cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup. Then there’s the fact that rice is always given as the carbohydrate component to the meal, in place of mashed potatoes, roast potatoes or chips.
Again, the unhealthy alternative is there if you want to find it, but the vast majority is healthy. Plus, when you eat out, you’re not tempted to order an additional calorific starter or dessert, simply because the option is rarely available. A definite positive if you’re trying to be good whilst dining out.
A lot of the meals are packed-full of vegetables, and if they aren’t you have endless side-dishes: kimchi, radish, seaweed, mushrooms, spinach, bean-sprouts, the list goes on. And they’re varied, so you often get a few different veggies as side dishes; definitely helps you getting your 5-a-day.
Alternatively, choose a main meal packed with veggies: my all-time favourite bibimbap, shabu-shabu where you get a huge plate of greens to add to your soup… There’s no excuse not to eat your veg!
I’ve found (to my annoyance at times when I crave a naughty treat) that even sweet bakery items aren’t as calorific, greasy, or fatty as their Western alternatives. Fillings such as red-bean, sweet potato, corn, and fig take the place of things like chocolate. Result? The food is more nutritious and you don’t have to feel guilty at the thought of what you’re eating.
In England, all of the options are buttery, greasy, and you’d be pushed to find something for under about 500 kcals (I know, I’ve tried). There pretty much isn’t a healthy-option. In Korea, I wouldn’t call bakery foods ‘healthy’, but I also wouldn’t call them ‘sinful’.
(Again, there are worse options to choose from: doughnuts, cream-filled pastries, fried things, but on the whole, they are nowhere near as bad as they could be).
Rice As A Side Dish
Ok, it would be healthier if it was brown rice, but as side-dishes go, it’s definitely better than a load of buttered bread, chips, or fried potatoes. It’s a good, fat free carbohydrate to add to your meal, and far less calorific than the alternatives.
Lack Of Unhealthy Additions To Food
There’s a definite lack of added sauces, dips, or spreads in Korea. Though you can still find them in foods, the use of things like cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, or butter is a lot less.
You don’t find sandwiches dripping with butter and mayonnaise as you would in England, cheese is usually only found in Western meals like pizzas or burgers, and gochuchang is the most common sauce to be added to food, in place of ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard.
In general, then, it’s not hard to see why the obesity levels are so much lower in Korea. Meals are more nutritious and packed with goodness, fatty-foods like butter, cheese, mayonnaise are used less, and even snacks are, by comparison to other countries, less detrimental to your diet.
However, there are some mistakes you could make in Korea which could have a negative impact on your diet:
Fatty meats: Samgyeopsal is the worst offender here. Barbecue is so popular in Korea, and can be so healthy if you eat it right- what can be better than lean, grilled meat alongside some salad? But, if you choose the fatty meats, it is obviously far worse for you. And Samgyeopsal, with more fat than meat, is the worst option you could choose.
Fast food: A bit of a no-brainer, but true nonetheless. There is so much fast-food on offer in Korea, not only the Western burger chains and pizza places, but the Korean favourite of fried chicken. I know people who eat a lot of this, so much so that my students call chicken an ‘unhealthy’ food, because they’ve only eaten it after it’s been deep fried. Um…
Instant food (especially ramen): Something which all my students are guilty of, snacking on microwave burgers or instant ramen pots (and for breakfast too, which is just gross). These foods are everywhere and it couldn’t be easier to pop into CU and buy a quick-fix if you’re hungry. But really, these instant meals are unhealthy and completely lacking in nutrients. Not a good option!
Eating too much (especially rice): Again, fairly obvious, but it’s easy to do. Especially when rice is added as a side to the majority of main meals, even when your main meal is carbohydrate-based. I’ve eaten a ton of noodles before, only to be offered rice as well. Is there any need for the rice? No. Do you eat it anyway? Well, if it’s there… An easy way to add un-needed calories to your meal. The same can be said for asking for more and more side-dishes to go with your meal, Well, if it’s free…
So, if you choose to eat at places like Pizza School, Lotteria, and Baskin-Robbins, buy instant snacks from CU and eat extra rice with every meal, you might not realise how healthily you can eat in Korea, But, I think it’s fair to say that if you avoid the pitfalls, it’s quite easy to eat guilt-free. And if that involves being able to eat out and enjoy delicious meals, that’s definitely a good thing in my opinion.
Everyone loves a good comforting meal, especially at this time of year when every day it’s getting colder and darker outside; what better thing is there to do than settle down in a cosy room with some delicious comfort food. In Korea, my favourite comfort food is my beloved Dolsot Bibimbap, a steaming-hot bowl of veggies, rice, egg and spicy pepper paste, perfect for warming you up on a cold autumn night. So imagine my pride when I found Bibimbap here on a list of ‘The World’s Best Hearty Food’, proof that people outside of Korea are beginning to realise how amazing it is!
Reading the article made me think about comfort food around the world; people in different countries envisage different things when they think of comfort, from gooey pizza to succulent steak to dumpling soup. Here is my selection of the best hearty comfort food from around the globe:
There are a lot of comforting meals which I could rave about from back home, but I’ll note just a few favourites instead:
Full English Breakfast complete with sausage, bacon, beans, eggs, toast, tomatoes, hash browns… Sausage, mashed potato and gravy… Roast Dinner…Fish and Chips… Pies… Just delicious food.
Mac and Cheese looks like the most appetising food ever, and must be heaven for cheese lovers.
And of course there’s American pancakes, biscuits and gravy, southern-fried chicken… The list could go on.
Chips, gravy and cheese? This is the best combination of foods I can imagine. I need to go to Canada now…
A delicious dish of rice mixed with seafood or chicken and vegetables which is seasoned, steaming and sizzling to perfection. No wonder it’s the most popular Spanish dish!
Where better to go for the best steak and frites than France. And how about a side of French onion soup to go with your steak… that’s one comforting meal…
The Greeks have done well with this meal: layers of aubergine, meat, potatoes, and topped with a rich bechamel sauce. It’s kind of like a lasagne, although, dare I say it, even better.
Is there a place in the world with better comfort food than Italy? Pizza, pasta, rich, tomatoey sauces (and let’s not forget amazing gelato for dessert). Basically anything full of carbs in Italy can probably constitute comfort food…
Tender meat coated with breadcrumbs and eggs and then fried, Schnitzel (or Schnitzel equivalents) is popular all over the world, but especially in Germany. Have this alongside some chips and you’ll have one seriously satisfying meal.
Chinese Wanton (dumpling) soup is as good as soup gets. Amazingly delicious dumplings in a tasty broth, with some noodles added in for that extra yumminess… What could be better to warm you up during the cold months?
Instant ramen? Not that great. Proper Japanese ramen? Amazing. Tender noodles in soup along with meat, veggies, or whatever else you fancy, a good bowl of ramen is comfort in a bowl.
Adobo is one of the best meat dishes I’ve tried in a long time: rich, filling and so yummy. Meat marinated in soy sauce and garlic and then served, coated in the thick, almost gravy-like sauce. Flavourful, filling, and just perfect.
For many people, there is nothing more comforting than a curry, and this popular Thai curry will certainly heat you up on a chilly evening. Creamy, rich, spicy, it’s no wonder that Thailand is famous for this delightful meal.
Talking of curries, we can’t forget Indian curries. Nothing beats a good curry, with some naan bread, bhajis, samosas and poppadoms. You’ll probably end up eating too much, but it’s so amazing, who cares?
Anywhere with Skiing
How better to warm up on a snowy mountain than by treating yourself to a fondue. Warm, melted cheese and fresh bread…A match made in heaven.
You can go around the world and find so many different hearty comfort foods. And whether it’s Korean Bibimbap, American Mac and Cheese or Indian Curry, they all have one thing in common: they make you happy. And that’s true with comfort foods the world over…
Happy Pepero Day from Korea! If you’re not familiar with this special day, it’s one in which people exchange Peperos (chocolate sticks) with their loved ones, kind of like Easter without the religion. According to reports, the celebration started because people believed if you partook in the Pepero celebration, you would become taller and thinner, especially if you ate your Peperos at exactly 11:11 on November 11th- 11:11, on the 11th day of the 11th month. And if you’re really superstitious, you should make sure you eat the Peperos 11 seconds after 11:11, for the ultimate thinning/ heightening effect. Eating loads of chocolate to make you taller and thinner? I like that kind of logic!
Last year, our first year here, the holidays took us by surprise in Korea: why were we given tons of Peperos on one day? Why apples another? Why is there loads of Valentine’s-looking stuff in the shops in March? Now it’s our second year, we know what to expect, and what holidays we can look forward to. Here are some of the special days celebrated in Korea (take note Westerners, we should make these catch on back home…)
A second Valentine’s Day, kind of. On Valentine’s Day, it is traditional in Korea for women to give men a gift. Then, one month later on White Day (March 14th), it is the man’s turn to give a gift. If you’re a romantic, you’d see this as a lovely way to prolong the holiday and increase celebrations. If you’re a cynic, you’d see it as even more of a commercial gimmick than Valentine’s Day already is…
A day for single people, on the 14th April, one month after Valentine’s-type celebrations have finished. Single people celebrate by eating a black-coloured meal of Jajangmyeon (noodles with black soybean sauce). A good excuse to treat yourself to a delicious meal, at any rate.
A personal favourite, obviously! It was a nice surprise when we came in one day to have children giving us gifts and kind notes. Oh, and the song they had prepared to perform for the teachers. A well-deserved celebration of teachers, and one I think teachers all over the world should be able to enjoy!
A slightly random, but nonetheless enjoyable day: give an apple to people you want to apologize to. The Korea word for ‘apple’ is ‘사과’ which also means to apologize, hence giving an apple as a token.
There’s still a Parent’s Day in Korea, the equivalent of Mother’s Day/ Father’s Day. But in Korea, there is also a day to show appreciation for your children! Children are given gifts and taken to exciting places like the zoo, or a theme park. I would have loved such a day when I was young; it would be like an extra Christmas Day- what could be better?
Korean New Year
New Year’s Day is usually a pretty rubbish day in England: Christmas is officially over, people are tired/ hungover, and worse, feel like they have to start their New Year’s Resolutions, which generally leaves everyone feeling grumpy. In Korea, it’s a pretty good time- three days of festivities in fact. The best part for children? Sebeh: when children wish older people ‘Happy New Year’ by bowing to them, and in return are given money. Imagine how much you could make if you bowed to every older person on that day… sounds like the children get a good deal, that’s for sure!
I think that Korea have got it right with their holidays, and England could do with a few more random gift-giving days. What brightens up your day like getting a few apples or some chocolate sticks? And nothing would improve a gloomy January 1st more than getting some money. Well, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that England catches on to these ideas soon…