Yesterday at breakfast, my host brother asked me what I eat for dinner in America. (They're still really confused by this vegetarian thing) So, I told him that I eat veggie burgers. My host mom said she wanted to make it for me, but I told her that the burger part was too difficult. But, however, I do enjoy a hamburger without the burger (bun, cheese, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, etc). I also told her that I like spinach salad with strawberries (currently in season in Korea) and tofu. I left breakfast rather excited to see if my two recommendations would pan out.
Today at breakfast, the table was set with a lot of bread, peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, mustard, mayo, apple slices (sliced thin, like for baking), eel (leftovers from yesterday's breakfast) and a plate of greens. I didn't really look hard at the greens, because I assumed it was Bossam, a popular dish of steamed pork and spicy red sauce wrapped in sesame leaves.
Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I barely noticed my mom putting two slices of bread on everyone's plate, or Jae Jaen - the older brother - looking at me with big, round eyes. I, like always, was waiting for someone to start so my "strange" eating habits wouldn't be noticed, but Jae Jaen said, "Show me how to make a sandwich."
Bingo. 1 + 1 = 2. This was Amy's Cultural Breakfast Day. I realized the greens were lettuce and spinach, not sesame leaves. And the hamburger buns? Slices of bread. The hamburger? Eel. Ho-oh boy.
So here are the sandwich combinations that were created at breakfast today, with a rating of 1-5 (5 being delicious).
1) Bread, lettuce, apple, ketchup (3)
2) Bread, peanut butter, apple (5)
3) Bread, peanut butter, lettuce, ketchup (1)
4) Bread, jam, apples, lettuce (4)
5) Lettuce, apple, ketchup (2)
6) Bread, ketchup, cheese, mustard, lettuce, apple, eel (4 according to the brothers)
7) Cheese, jam, bread (5)
8) Bread, lettuce, ketchup, mustard (4)
I explained that I usually eat spinach in a salad, raw. My host mom's eyes sparked to life and she said, "Ahhh, spinach, strawberry, tofu and mayonnaise!" To which I made an "X" with my arms (my universal sign to communicate "No.") and said, "Nooo mayonnaise!" Somehow, salad dressing skipped this country, so all salads (which are usually cabbage-based, not lettuce) are soaked in mayonnaise. I'm amazed that Koreans like it. In fact, I'm often worried that, if they eat it, they'll be turned off from American food forever. But, I guess it's probably the same when someone from Mexico walks into a Taco Bell. It's not right, it's not wrong, it's just different. Just because it's not the way you'd eat it, doesn't mean it doesn't taste good.
I repeated that to myself a lot at breakfast as I tried a bite of #1 and winced as my brothers took a bite of #6. Who knows? Maybe eel burgers are going to be the next big things... In the mean time, I found a simple recipe for veggie burgers.