ginger and jujubes

Yesterday I had dinner with Miwha, and after dinner she asked me if I wanted some tea, and I declined because I was too full.  This was unacceptable to her, and she made me some anyway.  At first I was surprised because she brought out two jelly jars and it looked like she was going to make toast.  But actually, in the jelly jars was something that looked like jam but was actually the tea.  The first jar had candied jujubes (Asian dates, which are a dark maroon color and look like prunes) and the second jar had candied ginger.  (the consistency was more like compote or jam, instead of dried and candied, so they were very soft)  A teaspoon of each, muddled with hot water was the tea.  VERY sweet but yummy.  Supposedly it’s good for your organs, especially the lungs, and keeps you from getting fat?.

“…Fruit is excellent dried and can be stored for years! Very high health benefits! Used as a food and medicinally by the Chinese for hundreds of years. Considered a blood purifier! Make a healthy delicious Korean hot tea called “Techu Cha”. Wonderful to drink during cold winter months. Drink this hot beverage instead of coffee; your body will thank you…:

Like most Koreans, Miwha is super health-conscious.  While we don’t necessarily agree on what promotes health, I would say that Koreans practice in daily life what they preach more than Americans.  In almost every home that I’ve been in, even the most modern ones, you will see one food item or another drying to be made into tea for some particular curative or preventive medicinal tea or another.   So far I’ve seen flowers drying, corn silk drying, orange rinds drying, and jujubes drying.  She says that when she was growing up (she’s the same age as I am) everyone lived in houses (she grew up near Uijeongbu – a city quite close to the DMZ) and that every house had a jujube tree and they would pick them off the vine and eat them.  Except for being poor, she and many others feel Korea was a better place back then, as families worked together, relied on each other, and people shared more.  Just the fact that they had real houses is enough to convince me!  After dinner every night, Miwha soaks her feet in hot water and herbs to increase circulation.

Tonight, after a REALLY INTERESTING and POSSIBLY PROMISING interview for a job NOT TEACHING ENLISH (!!!!!!) I decided to purchase one of the rotisserie chickens that are always being sold at the corner of Itaewon Station.  I got it home and cut it in two, thinking I would save half for later (if that’s even possible – Korean chickens are all game hen size.  I don’t know if their lives are cut short, or if they’re a special breed, or if maybe that’s the size God wanted chickens to be before hormone-laced chicken feed was invented)  but bam! When I cut it in half, it was revealed to be stuffed with rice, garlic cloves, ginseng, and jujubes!  Just like you’ll find in the samgyetang soup Koreans eat to ward of the common cold.  Only the outside was crispy and roasted.  (btw, if you want to try this, then be aware that the guy selling the chickens is often in the parking lot gate house out of the elements so he doesn’t freeze)  Soooo yummy!  Who knew you could get samgyetang without the tang, roasted on a stick?  Well, I guess Koreans would know, but since I and half the residents of Itaewon can’t read his Korean sign, most just walk on by.  I’m thinking I won’t be able to save half of it…

OK.  I am, perhaps, the only English speaker in Korea right now who is remotely free and qualified for this job and it is right up my alley, since there are very few English-speaking architects in Korea, and there are even less English-speaking architects who have ever done more than don a hardhat and walk through a construction site, much less lift a hammer, hang off the sides of buildings, connect wiring, wear a respirator, tie down loads, carry their weight in materials, work with other trades, etc., etc., and maybe even fewer who can do technical writing.  The only problem is I don’t speak Korean and they’ll need to find someone who understands a little about construction and can speak English as an intermediary.   If I get this job I could make much much more than an English teacher.  So thank you, wrongful black-list writing dirty recruiter – maybe you’ve really liberated me to find greener pastures.

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