When I first came to Seoul 10 years ago, EVERYONE was super thin. Now people are more diverse in body size, But many people, especially older people and really young people, are still really thin. This amazes me because they eat so much! Not only does everyone have a pretty tasty all-you-can-eat Korean lunch, but people are constantly giving you food and drink snacks.
Within an hour of arriving at this desk on the first day, I had my first treat. As I was trying to clean up my area, one of the teachers brought me a 1 1/2-inch piece of corn on the cob. Since I was cleaning and my hands were dirty, I didn't want to grab it, so she put it on a Kleenex. Corn in Korea tastes very different than corn in the States. It is chewy and a little sweeter. I love it!
The next day, one of the teachers brought in cookies she made. She took her basket to every desk in the teacher's office and gave one to everyone, on a Kleenex. I actually hated it because it wasn't sweet at all, But didn't know it until I had popped the whole thing in my mouth. Since she had made them by hand, I smiled and told her it was delicious.
Another favorite of the office seems to be Korean grapes. I think they are muscrat grapes, but I am not sure. These grapes however, take some work to eat. The skin is pretty bitter, so you pop the inside out of the skin by squeezing it. You can pop the insides into your mouth, but then you still have to deal with the seeds. The grapesare sweet, but a little bitter too. I have received at least 4 bunches of grapes since I started 3 weeks ago.
I have also received: more pieces of corn (1 dipped in sugar), free cups of coffee, yogurt drinks, vitamin drinks, grape juice and Moon Pies. I usually eat everything.
My biggest surprise came when I found this on my desk last Monday:
From my class, I had gone directly to the lunch room. While I was there, I saw the cafeteria women carrying 20-30 of these golden boxes, but I still didn't know what they were. They looked so shiny, I really wanted one. I assumed that I wasn 't going to receive one though because I had been at my desk all morning when they were giving them out, and I hadn't received one.
After lunch, though, when I went back to my desk, there it was. So gold, so beautiful!
I carefully opened the plastic to see what was inside.
Inside the pretty box, I found ddok, which are rice cakes. Not that crunchy, dry rice cake from the states. It's more like Japanese mochi. I haven't eaten them all, but some of them are pretty tasty.
I asked around, because I wanted to thank someone, but no one knew who had given them out.
To me, that is the nicest type of gift. It is one where the giver expects nothing in return, not even your gratitude. In fact, most of the food and drinks are left like that: on your desk, on a Kleenex, anonymously.