Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shellfish Memories

It was at the least of my expectations that a shellfish could actually make my day. Tides of vivid memories came rushing in as I ate baked mussels today for lunch. And it was our blockbuster recipe a year ago in Daejeon University (대전 대학교)...

Food Festival--September 18, 2007. All exchange students are encouraged to join this annual celebration of concrete diversity--cooking our country's flavors and sharing them for others to taste. This festival is also a quasi-contest for the team who has the most marks wins (visitors put stickers on a team's name that prepared the best dish).

We really didn't have in mind winning. I guess all of the participants never considered this festival as a competition. We still, however, did our best to prepare decent dishes. The past two days for team New Zealand (Dave Gardner), Philippines (Elliot & Tanya), and Vietnam (Ngan and Len) had been quite a challenge; we have to scour almost all known shopping centers in Daejeon just to find the right ingredients for our unique dishes. Turned out though that we just have to learn to settle for substitute spices and other improvisations. Below are some photos of my teammates: [Tanya, Chaehun and I seasoning the mussels, Dave singing the Coconut Song, which really boosted the popularity of our team, Len Ngan wrapping their spring rolls]
9:00. We have to be at the International Office early in the morning for the preparations. Carrying all our ingredients: steamed muscles, sauteed garlic and basil in olive oil, mozzarella cheese, ground pork seasoned with herbs and minced vegetables, melted chocolates, oats (Dave thought using oats is the next best thing for making a Kiwi chocolate desert), butane gas and portable gas range, we arrived in high spirits in Hyehwah (혜화 문화) Culture Center. 12 nationalities were there. We've gone really international. [photos: stairs leading to the Global Lounge, my Japanese friends]Stoves started igniting at around 3pm, and the mixed aroma has prompted curious visitors, fellow students and teachers to drop by the site. Each team is assigned a booth; booth assignment is in alphabetical order. Near the entrance are the Chinese, followed by Japanese and last in line is our team. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), we didn't win simply because people are already too stuffed French gourmeting at the first few booths. Our countries' names just seem to have betrayed us on this occasion. And yeah, I'm not sour graping! ^_____^ Today was a real exchange of culture, building international ties, and simply experiencing and sharing a once in a life time bond.

And yeah, the winner is Team Japan. ^^; Their takoyaki (octopus balls; thanks Ms. Betchay ^^;) was admittedly oishi! I guess we ranked in 3rd. But again, today, rankings are just mere superficialities.
As the poem I composed for this blog's heading says: flavor is the heart. I will always remember this day whenever I eat baked mussels, Kaya toast, octopus balls, Thai and Lao foods, and delicious others.

With this group picture, let's call it a post.