Sunday, June 11, 2006

We're Junkies

About a year ago I became addicted to mool naeng myun. If you haven't read it here or here, then let me walk you through it.

My friend Julia over at Delicious Biting once wrote a lengthy, instructive explanation of mool naeng myun, but then she changed servers, so it's gone forever. Here's the gist. When Koreans meet each other, they introduce themselves, look around to see if anyone's listening, lower their voices, and then ask "where in this town do you eat mool naeng myun?" There are two kinds of people: people that swear allegiance to a single mool naeng myun restaruant, and the people that scour the city, searching for the transcendant mool naeng myun experience, knowing in their hearts that they can never relive the naeng myun that their Auntie Ji-hae made for them in the summer of 82.

Here's the funny part: it doesn't sound good when I describe it to you. Ready?

A metal bowl of cold buckwheat noodles, swimming in a beef broth, flavored with hard boiled egg, sliced pear, and mustard oil. And the best part is that it's chilled with ice chips. It should be freezing cold. Topped with some cucumbers, sliced brisket, and some chili paste.

Isn't that hillarious?

It's hillarious until you get addicted to it, and your eyes start to turn read and you can't control the shakes you get when you've gone without for too long.

So today I was in Factoria, sitting in at piano as a favor for a friend. On the way back home, I noticed a Korean market, so I stopped in, picked up some Melona bars... also I liked to look of the kimchee bar, so I got a jar of napa cabbage and some noodle salad and beansprouts from the bar.

Here was the dialogue as I went to pay:

me: No cucumber kim chee?

cashier: No, not today.

me: When?

cashier: I don't know.

me: Is this the season?

cashier: Maybe next week.

me: I'll come back.

(awkward silence)

me: Where can I get mool naeng myun?

cashier: You like mool naeng myun? (smiling)

(awkward silence)

me: Is there a place near here?

cashier: (taking her time) You know, but 156th, by Albertsons...

me: Can you write it down for me?

She reaches for a yellow trifold menu. It's all in Korean, except for an address, which she circles.

me: It's good there?

cashier: (silence--smiling) Yah!

me: (smiling) kamsan ni da!

As soon as I got in my car, I called H and told her. We're going later. We're junkies.


ding said...

my palate is dead.
i never have food epiphanies anymore. how can you still have food epiphanies??

Evil Jonny said...

I'm dying just thinking about it! How was it?

john patrick said...

Ha ha, Jonny, of course!

H and I haven't made it over there yet. Yesterday she flamed out; today, it was me and my eye appointment (dialated pupils).

Don't worry, my man; I will tell you all about it.