On a date or in a stew, improvisation has its charms

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On a date or in a stew, improvisation has its charms

Blind dates can gnaw at your soul, especially if you are serious about them. The atmosphere is often so unnatural, from the moment you walk into the restaurant until you finally make up your mind whether to say “Good-bye” or “See you again.”
The worst situation, of course, is meeting your date in a hotel coffee shop on a Friday or Saturday evening. Luckily, I haven’t gone through that ordeal yet. Hopefully, I will never have to.
Based on what I’ve been told by friends who’ve been on blind dates in such coffee shops, surrounded by other couples in similar situations, it doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience at all. One of my friends bluntly described the experience as being like “group mating.”
I wasn’t too lucky myself with the few blind dates I went on in my 20s. They were filled with awkward moments that were too embarrasing for me to endure ― such as calling the person you are supposed to meet without realizing that he is standing right next to you. But I never really thought about giving up blind dates. I guess that was mainly because I didn’t like hanging out at parties, where most people meet new people, and I didn’t have the guts to try to meet men in bars either. I also somehow held to the strange hope that things might get a little easier in my 30s.
They did, in some ways. More and more, I tend to be consciously fatalistic about how things turn out in life. So even if the man I left on a blind date after a few hours of talking turns up on the list of the 30 Korean men under the age of 40 who own the most stock ― this has actually happened to me ― I try to take it in stride.
It’s amazing what accidents can lead to in life. It reminds me of how budae jiggae (“base stew”) was created during the war. Who would have thought that a traditional gochujang stew could be improvised out of leftover bacon and sausage from military ration boxes? But accidents often have surprising results.
A funny thing about blind dates is that once you’re in the relationship, you tend to forget how you ended up there. I’ve always wondered how couples who fell in love after meeting on a blind date could possibly admit to themselves how they met. It seems so unromantic! But maybe we learn to embrace the idea that there is something intriguing to every romance, however it starts out.
It’s like good food. It doesn’t matter what you put in or what you’ve done to it, as long as it tastes good.


How to Cook

Budae jjigae

Ingredients: 2 sausages, 100g of kimchi, 1/2 block of tofu, 1 green onion, 5 mushrooms, 1/4 zucchini, 3 teaspoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of chili paste, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic, two cups of chicken or beef broth, pinch of pepper, sesame seeds, a teaspoon of sesame oil. Serves 4.
1. Dice the tofu and cut the sausages, green onion, mushrooms and zucchini and put them in a pot.
2. Add the kimchi, chili powder, chili paste, sugar, garlic, pepper, sesame seeds and sesame oil.
3. Add the broth and boil over medium heat for about 40 minutes.
4. Add instant noodles if desired.
From miz.naver.com, Delicook


by Park Soo-mee
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