Today was my last day as a teacher in Korea, and I got a gift from my co-teacher as I walked out the door. This is not surprising, as anyone with a Korean in their life will know. They are very much with the gift-giving. For any reason. Help mop up a coffee spill and you'll get a cake the next day to say thanks. It's adorable, and one of the things I'll miss about this crazy country.
These things were in my gift bag!
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. What you are looking at are: two cans of sesame oil, a bag of rock salt, a pair of scissors and a set of 2002 FIFA World Cup coasters. This may seem like an odd gift, but it makes perfect sense (aside from the old coasters, which were from someone else). Allow me to explain.
One of my favourite things to eat is Korean barbecue (samgyupsal). Usually this is done with strips of pork on a griddle in the middle of the table, which each person cooks as they go along, kind of like a fondu/BBQ mash-up. I prefer this meal using beef, which in Korea is often the prime cuts like fillet and sirloin. So cheap and tasty! Anyway, accompanying this meal is a little bowl of sesame oil/salt mixture, which is AMAZING!
The last time I went out for dinner with my co-teachers, we went to a samgyupsal place and I ate so much meat I almost turned into a steak. In the process, I had to re-order the oil/salt mixture. So my lovely co-teacher Hyo Jin, without whom I would not have survived my school, included it in my gift.
As for the scissors... during this meal, I mentioned to the group that I found the Korean habit of cutting meat and veggies with scissors to be ingenious. It really is such a smart, practical thing to do. So she bought me big kitchen scissors, with the instruction, "These are not for stationary. Only for the kitchen!" Adorable.
I also got a cheesecake, because they know how much I love it. Kamsahamnida!