Fun Korean Photos – Summary of our Trip

I had to make a quick trip to Korea last week so it was tough to get posts up from internet cafes that only have Internet Explorer, but I brought back plenty of pictures!

One of my favorite parts about being in Seoul is that you can walk into just about any restaurant in the city center and be assured of a great meal. Although restaurant chains have started to make an appearance, the Korean restaurant scene is still largely dominated by sole proprietor family restaurants that serve food the same way they’ve been serving food for decades. Not surprising, then, that even when you go to a barbecue restaurant with the express purpose of satisfying your carnivorous desires, you’re still served a ton of veggies in various forms to balance out the meal. My first meal back was pork rib barbecue, where the pork rib is cut in a butterfly pattern so that it can be rolled out in a thin layer and quickly grilled at the table. Continue reading

Take a Walk. Or Ride a Bike

Bike-only parking lot near Central Station in Amsterdam

We went to Amsterdam a few weeks ago, where we ate a ton of great Mediterranean and Italian food. While we were there, we were blown away by how many people rode bikes. I don’t mean in a recreational sense, I mean that EVERYONE rode their bikes everywhere. We went to the Dutch version of Wall Street during morning rush hour, and we saw dozens of middle-aged bankers and traders in expensive suits riding their bikes to their offices. Why don’t we do more of that here? Continue reading

Calorie Density

California recently started making restaurants list the number of calories in each food item on their menus. I was at Starbucks recently when I noticed this piece of banana walnut bread with an astounding calorie count – 490 calories!! How the heck does this harmless looking piece of bread pack 490 calories? Well, for one thing it has 46g of sugar – more than is recommended for an entire day. But the real shocking thing here was how many calories they managed to pack into such a small piece of food. Continue reading

Train your palette like you train your body

Green tea shaved ice, "Bingsoo"

I adore sweets. Hags can’t keep me away from anything with whip cream on it (or inside it!), so we usually avoid bakeries and close our eyes when we walk past any ice cream or frozen yogurt shop. Adding to my frustration, Hags “isn’t into sweets.” I mean, seriously, who isn’t into sweets? But it’s true, he just ignores anything sweet and is completely disinterested. He told me once that Koreans don’t like sweets–that can’t be something that is in your genes! Continue reading

Asians Love to Skinny Dip

Pot stickers, shumai, sushi and spring rolls. What do all of these Asian staples have in common? You dip them in sauce!

We dip plenty of things here in America too, but you can already guess where this post is going. When we dip things in America, we’re usually dipping deep-fried chicken tenders in barbecue sauce, or healthy carrots in fatty ranch sauce, or God forbid, buffalo wings in blue cheese. Continue reading

The All-American Lunch Trap

Just the other day I was talking to my good friend Maya about authentically “American” food, and I gave my standard line that southern BBQ was the most original cuisine that America had to offer the world. I was surprised when she countered that to her, the quintessential American food was lunch food. Lunch food?

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Are American grocery stores making us gain weight?

One of the few choices in the frozen foods section in Amsterdam

My fiance and I are on a two-week holiday in Amsterdam. We are house-sitting for my fiance’s sister, so we feel less like tourists and more like short-term residents. This is my first time in the Netherlands so I’ve been amazed at the city’s seriously inspiring biking habit and the ubiquity of kebab houses (which are amazing!).

Since we have a full kitchen, my fiance decided he had to get his hands dirty so we ventured out to the grocery store for some goodies. We entered the store next to the massive produce section, grabbed a few vegetables and some bananas and moved onto the deli section. The deli was chock full of fresh meats and aged cheeses–the Dutch really seem to love their cheese! We found bread next to the deli, not bagged bread that had been mass-produced and shipped to the store, but freshly baked bread that was bagged by the bakers in-house. We wanted some yogurt and decided on a raspberry drinkable kind. Even though the ingredients labels were in Dutch, the list was so much shorter than our American yogurt–there were just three or four ingredients! Continue reading

Chopstick Your Way to a Flat Belly

Korean Appetizers (banchan)

My mother-in-law could set a world record for the amount of time she takes to eat a meal. She chews each and every bite like forty times, it is really incredible. I asked her once why she eats so slowly, and she looked quite confused and repeated the question, “Why do I eat slowly?” The question came as such a surprise, she had never considered herself a slow eater or even put any thought into her pace of eating. She had a simple explanation– she just likes to relax when she eats. I thought that was a simple and perfect response. Until a few years ago, the only time I took more than five minutes to eat was when I was on a date. Until I met Hagana, relaxation and food were diametrically opposed in my life. My fiancé and his family taught me how to slow down and enjoy every delicious bite of each meal.

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You are what your servers look like

Eating out at restaurants can wreak havoc on your diet. I’ve read countless Shape and Women’s Health articles on the hazards of restaurant foods to your weight loss plan (who hasn’t?). These articles claim that if you are trying to lose weight, you should avoid just about any restaurant because of the added oil and deep-fried nature of many restaurant foods. I disagree, it’s obvious these researchers haven’t tested authentic Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese restaurants. My idea of a good restaurant is a mom-and-pop Korean tofu house or a crowded Vietnamese noodle soup place, so I am essentially eating home-cooked food every time I eat out. Continue reading