Monday, February 8, 2010

Lunch is.. um, served…

12:10pm, the bell rings and it is now lunch time. The kindergarten portion of the day is half over and it’s time to refuel for the rest of the afternoon.

Everyday at lunch we have to eat with the kids in the classroom. Basically we’re babysitters telling them to eat all their food and to stop making a mess on the table and themselves. Rice is sticky, it sticks to everything including their clothes and even their hair, and yes it happens more often than you think. Once the kids are finished lunch they have to wash their hands and brush their teeth and then it is playtime (aka break time for teachers).

We’ve taken a few pictures to show everyone what we eat on a daily basis. But first, a little background knowledge. Korean food is base upon rice, noodles, vegetables, tofu and meats. Traditionally, Korean cuisine are most known for the number of side dishes that accompany short-grain rice.

Our meals are served in box like dishes that have 4 separate sections. The largest section is for rice, the main component of the meal, the other three are for side dishes. The food here does not get mixed on top of one big plate like it generally would at home. Also, there is always a soup of some kind that is served up as well. Let’s take a look…

Lunch Box

iSponge Lunch_06 [1024x768]

1. Rice 2. Jelly cubes and zucchini 3. Chicken, potato & carrots 4. Jelly cube, quail eggs 5. Kimchi radish 6. Bean sprouts 7. Egg drop soup

The rice and the bean sprouts are good, as well as the quail eggs. Surprisingly, the chicken and potatoes were decent that day also. We don’t particularly care for the kimchi radish (even though we like kimchi) so we just leave it.

iSponge Lunch_07 [1024x768]

1. Rice 2. Kimchi 3. Rotini noodles and cocktail wieners 4. Sesame leaf covered in think red pepper paste 5. Bok Choi / Chinese cabbage that was pickled (we think) 6. Meat patty of some kind 7. Cabbage soup

The plain rice is ok, the kimchi this day was not good. Of the regular types, baechu kimchi there is “old or new” kimchi. New is recently made and has not been fermented as long. Old kimchi is MUCH better, and yes we can tell the difference. I don’t touch new kimchi, it smells and tastes funny (That may sound like an odd statement considering kimchi itself has a distinctive smell that lingers in your fridge and home). The noodles were “so-so” (that is a common phrase here) and the cocktail wieners were cold. I should also point out that most people call hotdogs, sausages, and other similar meats all sausage, or as Koreans pronounce it – sausagey. The meat patties again are so-so, but I like meat so I finished them off, with the a nice dollop of ketchup. The soup was pretty good and as for the Chinese cabbage, I didn’t try it (and yes, I do eat quite a bit of veggies otherwise here)

iSponge Lunch_01 [1024x768]

1. Rice 2. Kimchi’d radish cubes 3. Small pieces of beef 4. Pickled cucumber (tastes nothing like a real pickle) 5. Squid and some veggies in a light red pepper sauce 6. Some kind of shellfish in a think salt red pepper paste 7. Seaweed Soup

Plan rice again.. I don’t care much for the kimchi’d radish cubes. The meat was mediocre, but the squid was delicious as always! The pickled cucumber was decent enough to eat. The shellfish was too slimy and the sauce/paste was too salty. The seaweed soup is hit and miss, sometimes it tastes too much like the ocean, other times it is a good filler for the soup and adds texture.

iSponge Lunch_02 [1024x768]

1. Rice 2. Pork 3. Lettuce leaves with red pepper sauce 4. Kimchi 5. Noodles 6. Black beans 7. Cabbage soup

Surprisingly the lunch this day was not bad, minus the lettuce leaves. Krista loves the black beans! The soup was spicy and warmed us up that cold afternoon.

iSponge Lunch_04 [1024x768]

1. Rice 2. Battered and fried pork 3. Fish with skin and bones 4. Zucchini 5. Daikon Kimchi (made from a root) 6. Spinich 7. Light potato soup

The battered pork was good, but then again, anything battered tastes good. I hate the fish. I’m not a fan of pulling of the skin and picking out the bones to try and get the fish, which isn’t always tasty, yuck. Krista is getting much better with her chopstick skills and ate both of our fish, sans bones. The zucchini and daikon kimchi are good and so was the soup.

iSponge Lunch_03 [1024x768]

iSponge Lunch_08 [1024x768]

Each student has a metal dish like this. Rice on the left, soup on the right and side dishes at the top. Usually their lunch is slightly different than hours. Sometimes we have better side dishes, sometimes they do. Depending on how hungry the kids are, there can be extra dishes on the cart for us teachers to grab :)

Since our school is fairly new, we only have 9 morning kindergarten students in 3 classes. Instead of hiring someone to cook at the school, lunches are catered and delivered each day. Our lunches come in the black boxes and the students dishes are shown in the picture above. Each student brings a lunch box/tray from home each day. The rice comes in a small cooler that keeps it warm, although I see our lunch boxes get nuked in the microwave each day, with the tinfoil in it!

As you can see for yourself, these lunches are not very exciting. I try to fill up on rice and soup when I consider the side dishes to be “craptacular”. On a more positive note, we eat for free..yay!

In case you’re wondering what it is really like eating lunch with these students, take a look at this video.. priceless!

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