October 2008

The common Korean hardware store looks nothing like Home Depot.  It’s usually a small storefront with ladders, wires and plungers displayed in front.  Stateside, I’m used to strolling down the aisles and fondling the merchandise.  As soon as you enter a hardware store in Seoul someone will ask “What is it you need?”  While the selection is slimmer, the service is better and you can get most anything fixed or installed the same day for a reasonable fee.  We updated an electric wall socket (one outlet to two) for a mere 8,000W (approx. 8 USD) and that’s no job for an amateur.

Exterior of my neighborhood hardware store.


October in America means Halloween and pumpkins.  In Korea however, October means persimmon (감) season.  There are a plethora of persimmons at the market.   The taller variety are only edible when soft.  The squat ones can be eaten hard or soft.

I just bought 10 for 3,000W (approx. 3 USD).  And while I enjoy the sloppy mess of eating them, I wondered what else could be done with so many soft persimmons…

Persimmon Smoothie

1 soft persimmon (remove green leaves, large seeds; skin okay; cut into chunks and frozen)

1-2 Tbs. sweetened condensed milk (optional, for added sweetness)

1/2 cup (or more) milk

Place the frozen chunks into cylinder, drizzle with sweetened condensed milk, cover with enough milk for proper immersion blender function.  Blend thoroughly and enjoy!

Features persimmon flavor without the slimy texture.  A yummy way to get your vitamin C and calcium in one cool cup.

Recently I was craving a Slurpee.  While there are plenty of 7-11’s here in Seoul, there are no Slurpee machines inside.  FYI:  it’s a good place for tourists to get cash from the ATM since all major US partners are honored.  Looking at the ice cream offerings the closest substitute is a bagged shake (on left) which comes vanilla, strawberry and coffee.

A recent addition to the icy treat offerings is roasted corn ice cream (on right).  The wafer is shaped like corn on the cob and the inner corn ice cream has a thin layer of chocolate.  I’m not a fan but I had to try it.

If you’re craving a western breakfast with pancakes and sausage there are a limited number of options in Seoul.  The quick and easy route is McDonalds but that means you have to make your way there before 10:30a.  I’ve been to a few brunch places in Itaewon where the most impressive thing was the price charged.  Gyopowife liked the breakfast offerings at Puffin Cafe in Hannam-dong:  the food is basic and good for reasonable prices.  They serve breakfast all day and night, among other things.

Puffin Cafe is near UN Village and the former DanKook University campus in Hannam-dong.

Little bags of chestnuts are my new favorite snack.  Chestnuts are tasty whether they are roasted, raw or room temperature.  The only problem was the effort it took to peel the husk away.  Now they come roasted, peeled and ready to eat.  I’ve taken to keeping them in the glove compartment where they become a nice, warm snack to help you deal with traffic and hunger.

Chestnut (밤) snack bags.

American citizens living overseas can vote by mail.  An internet search on your home state and county voter registration will provide you with the necessary forms to fill and and return (expat Angelinos can use this link: http://www.lavote.net/Voter/Overseas_Voter.cfm).  I haven’t missed an election yet while living in Seoul.  We may live in a different hemisphere but our opinions matter.

2008 U.S. Presidential Vote-By-Mail packet after voting.

Prior to relocating here, I was always the one who would bring baked goodies to a party.  Looking for baking ingredients in Seoul takes a bit of patience.   Things are not packaged the American way.  Everything powdered comes in packets.  Even vanilla is a powder packet.  The baking soda (upper right) and baking powder (lower left) bake up the same.  When using the vanilla powder, I tend toward heavy-handedness since it’s literally “scent” and not real vanilla extract.

Corn starch, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla are powder packets in Korea.

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