Friday, March 28, 2008

Costco: a Magical Place for the Foreigner in Korea

I am generally not picky when it comes to grocery shopping in Korea. Mainly, my largest complaint concerning food or food preparation is the lack of an oven in my apartment (or any apartment, for that matter). However, when it comes to stovetop skills I've been doing pretty alright, managing to find the closest equivalents to meat, vegetables, and spices to what I am used to cooking in Canada and creating (mostly) edible versions of my favourite meals.

There are some things that one simply will not usually find in your average Korean grocery store, though. For example, a can of stewed tomatoes. Limes. Marshmallows. Vanilla extract. Whole wheat bread, or whole wheat anything. Cilantro. Decent cheese (unprocessed). Unprocessed cold cuts, or any normal cut of meat like a steak or a ham. Real butter (debatable). Skim milk. Fruit that is out of season. Spices- any spices. Most herbs, like dill and thyme. Anything fairly traded. And the list goes on. Anyway, my point is you learn to live without a lot of stuff you're used to.

Some things you'll always find in a Korean grocery store? Well, bean and chili paste. Soy sauce and vinegar. Soft tofu. Weird cuts of pork, heavily marbled with fat (delicious, actually). Little chunks of beef, I assume for making soups and jiggae. Frozen mandhu. Ramyeon (instant noodles). Special breadcrumbs for making donkass (fried pork cutlet). Get my point? You pretty much need to learn how to cook in a more Korean way, which has left me rather delighted as I've created some interesting fusion dishes. But sometimes there's just a void in my soul for something that comes in a box with English on it, and to make myself whole again I go on the monthly trip to Costco in Gangnam with Jay.

Ahh, here you will see that Kerri has found a massive bag a trail mix with the Kirkland logo on the front. You know you're getting quality, mass produced food when it's Kirkland. I'm sure you all agree.

Me and Kerri usually go splits on a box of cinnamon buns, but they didn't have any at the bakery last weekend. Gah! The donuts sufficed... THIS time.

I have a slight obsession with Indian food, so I was pretty happy to find premade Bombay Potatoes and Madras Lentils. However, I have since tried these curries and will not recommend anyone buy them in the future. Bland, bland, bland.

And finally, Tracy's all like, "Where the hell are the mixed nuts?!". I don't think she even found them in the end.

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