We had a hankering for budae jjigae/부대찌개 or “army base stew” yesterday. It is a hodge podge stew made from what could be scavenged from US Army base trash during the Korean War when food was scarce. The soup base is spicy hot (made using gochu jang/고추장) with contents including sliced frankfurters, chunks of canned ham, scallions, onion, beans, cut corn, peas, tofu, ramen noodles and even a slice of American cheese. It is affordable, fun (boiled at the table) and seems appropriate to eat in light of the current economic downturn.

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The lesson learned while dining out was this: if you have a baby, beware of ajumas/아주마. The waitress dropped in the ramen noodles and then walked off with my baby. We were dumbfounded and had to demand him back. My husband taught me this essential phrase: eggy manjy jimah say yo (please don’t touch the baby)…you have to say this more often than you think in Korea.

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