After the party, there’s nothing like a bowl of soup

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After the party, there’s nothing like a bowl of soup

Catered food never does it for me. Or maybe it’s because of the atmosphere at catered parties and receptions that I’m never tempted to eat. The idea of having to stand, chat and hold a glass all at once usually keeps me from enjoying the food that gets stuffed into my mouth.
I tend to binge on a huge bowl of noodle or dumpling soup when I get home from a party, because I simply feel underfed, no matter how much I actually ate. Talk about psychological hunger! One of the main complaints I always used to get from my mother when I came home from a party was that I always pick the wrong parties, the ones that don’t even provide guests with proper food. She may be right.
At any rate, I’ve always feared deep down that this meant there was something wrong with my eating habits. A couple weeks ago, however, I had a comforting experience that confirmed that my “post-party binge syndrome” isn’t just some weird psychological expression of my repressed fear of social scenes.
At the Pusan International Film Festival, a couple of friends in the film business and I were at a reception thrown by a giant movie conglomerate; it was a big night for movie distributors and directors. My friend Won-hee, an ambitious film director despite her minor position in the industry at the moment, complained about her hangover from the night before ― or, should I say, from earlier that day, as she’d come back to her motel room from a bar after 9 a.m. Suddenly, Won-hee suggested that we leave the reception and get some hot gukbap (meat soup mixed with rice).
I must admit, gukbap is not something I would gladly volunteer to eat in a restaurant. The fact that it resembles dog food is one thing that has always kept me away from it. There is also the underlying notion, taught to me as a girl, that gukbap is not the type of food women with feminine charm would eat in public. As a victim of such loathsome gender indoctrination, I have always been hesitant to order gukbap in a restaurant ―until that night in Busan, in a place near Haeundae Beach, apparently run by the same lady for 30 years.
There was nothing like this taste, especially on our way back from eating such bad, culturally ambiguous food. For 3,000 won ($2.60), the bowl was full of just what we needed: fresh bean sprouts, pieces of dried blood and chunks of beef. (There are variations; the recipe to the right uses anchovies instead.)
It was the highlight of our trip ― three girls, with our sleeves rolled up, slurping from a large bowl of gukbap, leaving our repressive femininity behind. Maybe it wasn’t just a coincidence that our conversation gradually led to the Blood Sisters, the activist group that protests the feminine hygiene industry. We sat in the grungy eatery way past midnight, our shabby tin table in front of us, talking about whether this moment would have been the same without a bowl of gukbap.

How to Cook


Ingredients: 3 bowls of steamed rice, 200g of bean sprouts, 10 dried anchovies, 1 green onion, 1 green chili pepper, 1 red chili pepper, 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of fermented shrimp. Serves four.
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the dried anchovies. Cover and boil for 10 minutes.
2. Take out the anchovies; to the broth, add the bean sprouts, salt, diced green onion, crushed garlic, salt and sesame oil.
3. Add diced chili peppers.
4. Add rice.
5. Add fermented shrimp. Boil for about half an hour.
6. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
From, Delicook

by Park Soo-mee
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