An evening in "Hweh-deu-roul-weh-eeh..."
...or "Federal Way" as most people know the suburban city, located halfway between Seattle and Tacoma.
"Hweh-deu-roul-weh-eeh" is an appropximate rendering in English of how Korean-speakers, in the Korean alphabet, write out "Federal Way," since there is no "F"-sound in their Han-gul script.
So I'm almost over my cold, and as a get-well field trip, my wife and I decided to go out for Korean food tonight. (The chili and garlic quotient in that cuisine practically make it medicinal.) The centers of Korean commerce in the Puget Sound area are in three places: the Shoreline-Edmonds corridor north of Seattle, the Lakewood area just south of Tacoma, and just twenty minutes from us in Federal Way (incidentally, my wife's home town). Scattered among Wal-Mart, Target, and Barnes and Noble are a healthy concentration of Korean restaurants, stores and salons.
So we had our 'fix' of garlicky redness.
We ordered one of our favorites: 'soon-too-boo,' which is a spicy stew of soft, fresh tofu with mushrooms, chili, garlic, and a choice of other items which might include seafood or meat and vegetables. It often is served boiling hot in a stone bowl, into which you break an egg, which cooks as you stir it around with a garnishing of toasted seaweed...Serious comfort food and it'll kick a cold right out of you. (This photo is not from the restaurant, but from my mom's house, when she made some for us when we visited her a few months ago....gives you an idea of the UN-subtle coloring of Korean cuisine...)
It's hard to spell out Korean food in English and not have it sound like a scary disease when you read it outloud..
Perhaps the phonetic unfriendliness of the menu is one reason why Korean food hasn't become as popular as Chinese and Thai food...Some examples of the scary spelling of other Korean staples are:
"kimchee" (probably the most familiar word)
So, yeah, if you don't know what those things mean, I can perfectly understand why you would be afraid to order anything!
But other Asian restaurants also have their fair share of delightful spellings...
A couple of my favorites are: "crab delighted"--yeah, sounds like fun!
and: "wanton soup"--watch your morals as you slurp there...
And that brings me to one of the joys in life for my wife and me: Engrish.
'Engrish' is that special brand of fractured English that appears in all manner of printed form in East Asia, on public signs, t-shirts, advertisements, and readily available on our side of the Pacific--on packages of exported food products.
So after dinner, we drove across (yes--drove across; one cannot walk across the street in suburbia, alas...) the road to a huge new grocery store: "H-mart." The business, housed in what was formerly a mainstream American mega-grocery-store, is an Asian-foodie's dream: cheap, exotic produce, fresh live fish, and yes--full of Engrish-labeled products. I love Federal Way's international strip-mall-ambiance: I can go to Barnes and Noble and then go to a supermarket that makes me feel as if I were in downtown Seoul. (As for the name "Federal Way," well...I don't love that name so much--who came up with that name for a town? I mean, for a road maybe, but for an incorporated city? come on--where was the imagination? Well, if you say it the Korean way--hwehdeuroulwehee--it sounds kind of exotic, eh?)
Among our purchases were a couple of candy items. I just had to scan them and so I submit them to you now:
These chocolates are from Japan:
In case you are having a hard time reading the small print, I'll write it out here:
"Very pleasant time.
When it gets along with the
Appreciate it slowly, please."
I guess the candy manuracturers wanted to give some relationship advice...
And now, from Korea, are some walnut candies:
"A Walnut Village"
Again, I'll retype the small print:
"So long as the world exists,
the most beautiful and most
profound taste we can
experience is the
Yeah...it takes a village to understand
( I just found out that it's possible on this website
to click on a picture to see a bigger version,
so go ahead if you want to read the small print...)
A couple more things that caught our eye tonight we didn't buy, so I couldn't scan them...
but I have to mention them:
"HotMate" spicy rice crackers...(only for married folks?)
"SexyMild" mauve-colored cosmetic face powder...(no, wouldn't want to be 'wild,' just 'mild'...)
In today's increasingly globalized world, why learn Spanish, French, or Mandarin?
Everyone should speak Engrish; the world would be a much punnier prace...