Quality Kimchi is Important!

A restaurant is only as good as its kimchi.

The other day, I was out with one of my Korean friends for a nice dinner. When I asked her for recommendations, she pointed out a restaurant that has “the best kimchi on the block.” In my confusion I asked her what else she wanted to eat, because kimchi alone isn’t a meal. She explained to me that she didn’t want to go eat only kimchi, but rather that the restaurant was of good quality.

What is kimchi?

Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable condiment/side-dish. There are hundreds of kimchi varieties, but the basic premise is a vegetable food that is salted, blended, and fermented with various ingredientsat ambient temperature. Each kimchi variation has its own unique sweet, sour, salty, zingy, or bright taste.  Kimchi and sauerkraut are very similar, however kimchi is less acidic and takes less time (around 3 days, rather than 20).

Kimchi Varieties

Why does kimchi quality (often) equal restaurant quality?

Kimchi takes a long time to make because you have to deal with a long fermentation process. Good kimchi also requires daily attention to make sure the cabbage or radish is properly submerged. If a restaurant doesn’t pay attention to its kimchi, then what other foods are they not paying attention to? Good food take time.

At first it was quite hard for me to discern the taste quality between different kimchi batches, but after living here for almost two months–and feeling quite disappointed when there is no kimchi to be seen at my meal table—I can easily tell if the restaurant makes their own precious side dish or if they just ship in a batch of frozen, pre-processed kimchi. There is a very distinct flavor and consistency difference between the two as with most foods, so it doesn’t take a refined palette to spot.

Kimchi is often an acquired taste for foreigners, just as spice level is. I am quite used to fermented cabbage with my parents loving sauerkraut (although I’m admittedly not a fan of sauerkraut, especially being around when family are processing it themselves!), so I quite enjoyed it from the start. But if you are not used to this type of pickled vegetables, never fear! All of my international classmates have grown to like it and look for it at every meal within a month. Just like a song, kimchi will grow on you!

So next time you ask for restaurant recommendations, be sure to ask how good the kimchi is!

Kimchi-Ingredients-copy
Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi is not difficult to make, but it might be hard to find the necessary ingredients depending on where you live. Here you can find an easy recipe to make your own kimchi at home. If you have any tips or tricks to making your own kimchi, let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for good culinary advice!

Learning Korean

오늘의 표현 (Today’s Expression):

김치는 보통  한국 식당에 반찬입니다.
kim-chi-neun bu-tong han-guk sik-dang-e ban-chan-im-ni-da.
Kimchi is usually a side dish at Korean restaurants.

단어 (Vocabulary):

한국 식당 (han-guk sik-dang) — Korean restaurant
음식 (eum-sik) — food
반찬 (ban-chan) — side dish
김치 (kim-chi) — kimchi

보너스 (Bonus)!

Korean Proverb:

김치국부터 마시지 말라
kim-chi-guk-bu-teo ma-si-ji mal-la
Don’t drink the Kimchi soup first

Figurative Meaning:

Don’t get ahead of yourself when planning for the future. Just as you won’t drink all the broth of your kimchi soup before eating the other contents.

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Mid-Autumn Festival

MidAutumn Festival - China9/8/2014. It is the Mid-Autumn Festival for this year. It is the second most important festival in Chinese culture (the first one is the Chinese Spring Festival). In Chinese culture, people pray to the Sun for a plentiful harvest and people pray to the Moon in appreciation for the harvest. So, you can say the Mid-Autumn Festival is Chinese thanksgiving. Koreans also celebrate it as 추석 (Chuseok), but I’ll let Dani write more about that later.

What do people do for Mid-Autumn Festival? Families gather together on this day and have a party while watching the Moon. Many people eat moon-cake during this party and different cities have their own way to celebrate this festival.

MidAutumn Festival - China 2The moon is important in Chinese culture as the Chinese calendar is based on the changing of the moon. Every Chinese month is a period from the new moon to the full moon and then back to the new moon again. As such, every Chinese month has 30 days and every 15th day in the month is the day that has the full moon. Normally, the Mid-Autumn Festival has the biggest and brightest moon in the whole year. Chinese people associate “reunion and happiness” with the full moon, and associate “separation and loneliness” with the incomplete moon. When a Chinese person sees a full moon, they miss their family and friends more.

Moon-cake is the special food for Mid-Autumn Festival. It is said that since the Tang Dynasty(618~907 A.D.), the moon-cake was similar to the one that you can find today. Here is the history behind the moon-cake:

MooncakeDuring 1271~1368 A.D. China was controlled by Mongolia. During that period, Chinese people were treated as animals. Chinese people didn’t have names, only a number was used to identify themselves from others. For example, the first emperor after this period is Zhu YuanZhang, but this name was given by himself, because he was called 88 when his parents were living. He could only choose his own name after all of his family members had been killed. When Double Eight was leading his army to fight with Mongolia, he had to capture a city, NanJing, which is protected by a tall and strong wall. Double Eight asked his men to cook a lot of moon-cakes and put notes in them, which said, “We are coming to attack after 10 days.” They sold the moon-cakes in that city on Mid-Autumn Festival because only Chinese people eat moon-cake and celebrate the festival. Therefore, when his army came after 10 days, they found the city was already controlled by the citizens. If you go to the city, NanJing, you still can see the broken walls that were broken during the second World War.

비가 오다~ The Rain Comes~ How Suitable a Phrase!

비가 오다 (biga oda)

Rain is coming.

This phrase is very suitable. Why? Because the way it rains here. The rain starts with the slightest smattering, almost like that of an ominous warning signal shouting, “You have 15 minutes before the sky let’s loose!” Then, as if on cue, the downpour sweeps in, almost teasingly. Best hope you have your umbrella with you, because when they sky decided to let it go, it does with no remorse. You’ll be drenched in a matter of seconds.

Rain - Seoul National Museum
Currently we are at the tail end of rainy season, but the rain doesn’t just give up and go back to the sea. No, it likes to take its time. And tease. Since I have been here, the rain has seemingly had a system. If the rain comes early in the day, expect it to come in short spurts. It will rain for a few minutes and then peter off to sprinkles. Then, after an hour of no rain, the rain will come again for another short bout. The rain is coming. All day it does this as if someone is pulling the lever to a garden hose stationed right above us. I find it quite amusing.

Now, on the other hand, if the rain comes later in the day you should expect it to be harder with a longer, harder downpour. This time, if you are caught without your trusty umbrella it is best to run inside the nearest G-25 or 7-11, grab yourself a snack, and wait it out. Otherwise you will find yourself soaked to the bones. Trust me.

rain

Now, in Sinchon we don’t have to worry as much about flooding as other areas of the country, but if you are going to be out for a day during rainy season, it’s best to keep your eye on the weather or bring your little umbrella. If you didn’t bring your umbrella along, 걱정하지 마세요 (don’t worry). Almost every convenience store sells umbrellas for around 4000₩ (~$4 USD).

비가 오다. The rain is coming.

Invisibility and Unanswered Questions

Much is invisible to the human eye and much more is left to be uncovered about the world and our universe.  What we cannot observe is often the basis for the many unanswered questions that surround us every waking minute. Take a look at this interesting short video posted on TED-Ed by ignostic thinker, John Lloyd, and his observations on what we cannot observe.

Best Sci-fi Short. Ever.

Ok, so I’m a bit of a nerd if you couldn’t already tell from my engineering major and ranging scholarly curiosities. Recently, science fiction has captivated my interest as I work my way through the Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert and the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan (so far, both great series!) Well, aside from books, I’ve always enjoyed a relaxing movie night on occasion. Well, summer boredom overtook me and I started poking around the sci-fi shorts on YouTube. You can certainly find a variety of them online as they range from quick and cheap homemade films to grandiose projects. After watching a gazillion-and-one of them, I came across this one: Plurality. Why don’t you just take a look for yourself.

Fifteen minutes well spent? I’d say so. The interesting thing is that this short is not highly talked about, surprisingly so as it is a well made masterpiece. It plays on the balance of privacy vs security, a long discussed issue when it comes to modern technology and warfare. Do you think the environment in Plurality could be somewhere not to far in our future?

Misconceptions of Evolution

Evolution versus creationism has been an argument for quite some time. This little video, no matter which side you stand on, helps clear up some points around evolution:

Evolution of Languages

Languages are often hard to trace back for certain. This video give a little insight into how modern linguists trace the evolution of languages:
 

Why not a Major?

Just recently, I had a discussion over dinner with a few friends. As we are all young college students, the topic of future plan inevitably arose. And that’s when the question was popped to me: “Why the heck aren’t you majoring in languages?”

My retort: I’m not that good with them.

…And I have my other reasons.

Yes, I have a habit of learning functional phrases in languages, but that’s just it. Yes, I can hold terse conversations in 6 or 7 without much effort on my end. But that is exactly my problem. Without much effort. The truth is, for the longest time I haphazardly studied languages. I enjoy messing around with them; identifying and tracing the nuances, meeting new people, being able to read new things. I actually did not find it agreeable that my high school required two years of the same language in order to graduate. It seems utterly unthinkable now, as I have completely turned a 180 and now advocate and actively pursue fluency in my fourth language.

I  could tell that they weren’t settling for this as an answer. Their eyes all looked at me inquisitively, as if to ask the same questions I have heard reiterated a hundred times, “So why not a major? You enjoy learning languages so much, why do you neglect them?”

Oh, how frustrating it is! Why is the major an all powerful deal in American education? Why is the lack of formal classroom study considered neglect? I could rant for hours explaining upon such topics, but the hours of the night were dwindling so I wrapped it up and put a nice bow one it. Something, I must say, that I despise to do.

A language major is a piece of paper, just as an other major is in actuality. It is a certificate saying that you ran through all the coursework, no matter how blindly or how well you master the material. That doesn’t mean that you can actually functionally speak the language, much less fluently. What is the use of a piece of paper if you cannot apply the knowledge it is supposed to represent? That there, is my qualm with language majors.

I know too many people, both friends and acquaintances, that have the language major/minor tacked on. They enter the work force and a few years later can no longer hold a conversation in the language or have forgotten many of the rules to writing that differ from the spoken words. That is not what I want. If this means that I have to take some of the dreaded fluency tests in order to truly show that I have maneuverability within the language, then so be it. It is, after all, much cheaper than paying for all the classes to get your major/minor.

But my primary issue applies to the follow up question. Why is self-study considered “neglecting” the language? To be frank (and yes this is a generalization, but in my experience it holds true), the language learning community highly respects self-studiers. Why? Because of the following reasons:

  1. Self-studiers do it on their own volition. They want to study it. Now, there are also quite a few people who study languages in a classroom setting by their own will, but it is much more likely that there is another driver (an employer, school requirement, etc).
  2. Self-studiers have to be efficient with their resources and time. Even with the power of the Internet making books and learning material more widely available, there are no strict sets of lesson plans that you must follow. It takes time to identify your learning style and find the suitable resources through which to learn, which leads to my next point.
  3. Self-studiers have to be self-aware. They must identify their weaknesses within the language and address them before moving forward. They have to know how they learn best, so that they do not have to retrace their steps and repeat; a draw that often narrows the field of self-studiers.
  4. Self-studiers have to persevere. Anyone involved in languages has to do this. But I can attest, as one who has learned languages through both formats, that self-studiers have a much more daunting task. There is no direct guidance. No one to set benchmarks or progressions on a smaller scale. If reaching for a certificate, there are the fluency tests that seem impossible for starters to reach. Learn a language is not something you just do overnight. It takes time and a ton of patience.
  5. Self-studiers know their motivators. Money? Grand. Experience? Interesting. Friends? Priceless. Everyone has their unique motivators. In a classroom, the motivators are primarily extrinsic. There are grades, prestige, and certificates that constantly remind you why you are pursuing the language. For self-studiers, the rewards may be less evident and are often intrinsic. A better knowledge of yourself and others, new ideas and perceptions, a new skill set. Granted, there are also extrinsic motivators in most cases, but to keep at a self-studier needs to know his reason for studying else it is easy to lose sight of your end goal.

Sorry for the excessive rambling, but my point was:

No, I will not get a language major. Yes, I will and have had instances of both formal and informal language learning, but for gosh sake don’t devalue one method for the other. It varies from person to person, but personally I don’t need a certificate to validate my choice.

Dear Moms

All moms have a tough job. They have the concerns of their children and family – health, food, housing, love – and they often don’t get the thanks in return. Here is a cool project, “The Worlds Toughest Job,” from Mullen in Boston.

Mullen posted this job listing for a “director of operations” at a company called Rehtom, Inc. The requirements were as followed:

• Standing up almost all the time
• Constantly exerting yourself
• Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• No vacations
• The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays
• No time to sleep
• Salary = $0

“The job ad got 2.7 million impressions from paid ad placements. Only 24 people inquired. They interviewed via webcam, and their real-time reactions were captured on video.” – AdWeek

Take a look at those applicants reactions:

Credits

Moms – this is for you. My mom was a stay-at-home mother who left her job as a claims analyst to raise my brother and I. I can never her thank her enough for her support and want to take this moment to send my love back and dedicate this post to her. Love you Mom!

Graduation Season is Here! High School Students – This is for You

Graduation season is now upon us, so I am addressing this to all my high school senior friends and readers. Firstly, congratulations! Graduating high school is a huge bench mark! Now it is time to celebrate the end of one stage and beginning of the next. Right now you’re brimming with self-confidence over your success in high school and maybe, just maybe, you’re thinking it’s going to be an assured cakewalk at your chosen college. As a friend and fellow student myself, I’m here to tell you it’s not. To gently dispel such naïveté I’d like to proffer these five nuggets:

1. Studying. To all my graduating high school seniors and fellow high-achievers, I’m going to put this bluntly, get over yourself if you don’t think you have to study. If high school didn’t require you to study much, starting learning how. Now. Figure out how to study and get good at it. Discipline yourself. You will find that an extra hour of hard studying pays dividends on a test.

dogreading-book

2. Tests. At university a lot rides on them and they’re demanding. In high school I was one of those super-achievers that took nine AP tests my senior year and felt sure that I could fare just as well in college. I’m an engineering major and believe me, if you think AP tests are as hard as it gets, think again. College tests can be harder still and it can be disconcerting to realize that no matter how many tests you take, you might never feel 100% prepared for any of them.

Test

3. Grades. Here’s a shocker: grades aren’t everything. Chances are you’re a sharp-shooter. Maybe you’ve bulls-eyed good grades with little or no effort and you’ve felt “mission accomplished.” Well, the target changes in college. Don’t aim exclusively at grades. Instead, the mature student knows that mastering the material will get you farther in college and life. Do that, and the grades will come. Guaranteed. Plus, your professors will recognize your hard work, which just might give you that extra sway when you need a half-point at the end.

betty_grading

Research. If you have even a hint of interest in research as an undergrad, field notwithstanding, ask your professors about getting involved. This serves a dual purpose: 1) your classroom professor will know your face and associate you with hard work and passion and 2) you will get your foot in the door for a possible job in a semester or two—and I don’t mean working the library desk at midnight. Especially in the sciences, laboratory professors are always looking for capable underclassmen to grab the knowledge baton as seniors graduate.

scientist working at the laboratory

Moderation. If you do not set limits, you will quickly get overstretched. If you hear the story of the 3 S’s, Sleep, Social, and Study, you might be told you can have only two. However, if you are skilled about it, you can have all three—but only through moderation. Equilibrium is tricky to find. If you can’t have all three, then do a great job on two—just make sure one of them is Study.

everything in moderation

No doubt you’ll find others besides these five. Keep yours in mind when you’re asked to pass on your wisdom to your underclassmen friends after you. Now, hit the ground running at college this fall!

Top 9 Reasons Why College is Humbling

Recently I have been on a bit of a list mode. As my first semester at an American university is wrapping up with two weeks before finals, I figured I would share some of my experiences. College has been extremely humbling for me. I came into college, believing that I would have an easy time in (but not necessarily breeze through) college. Hate to break it, but I was dead wrong. I am sure that I can possibly attribute it to my major, chemical engineering, but at the same time there are a lot of factors that turn against you when your in college. Here’s nine points of truth about one of the most humbling experience you will ever have:

1. You know nothing. Trust me, the earlier you accept it the better off you will be in college. You pay to attend in order to gain knowledge (idealistically) and a degree (realistically), but it will be much easier to pursue the latter if you are wide open to attaining more of the first.

The-Less-You-Know

2. No one knows anything. Literally. There a ton of concept, science, and information out there that no one can know it all. Even the masters of their fields will have gaps. This is why academia is a huge collaboration.

nobody knows anything

3. Only the basics are computable. When computing your physics problem of a car rolling to a stop in your PHYS 200 class, remember that you are leaving out a ton of factors in order to have an example simple enough to calculate. It’s never as simple as a few lines of math. This same reasoning applies to more than just math and science. Take economics for example, a lot is analysis and guesswork with probability curves and simplified models. Just be aware that once you look beyond the basics, your mind will be blown.

basics

4. The process you were taught before was never correct. More often than not, you’ll enter a class with a good background only to find out that you have been doing it wrong the whole time. Turns out that it was oversimplified to make it teachable to high schoolers…

Process-Doc

5. Valedictorian in high school? Not anymore. If you breezed through high school, be ready for a wake up call. I had taken college classes in high school because I ran out of classes to take and I still find that actual university classes are harder. Lovely.

valedictorian1

6. In every class, something with always sound like a foreign language. Of course this is true if you actually are taking a foreign language, but it is also true no matter what subject. There is always some bit of information or important concept that you must wrap your head around that seems completely counter-intuitive.

Studying Japanese

7. You meet awesome people. The best part of college is the people you meet. You’ll make many lifelong friends and meet interesting characters. Simple advice: respect everyone. I guarantee you that you can learn something from every one.

awesome

8. Someone’s always better than you at something. That’s just outright life, but it becomes clearly evident when you begin to meet the thousands of people on campus. Don’t fret it though, just enjoy and strive to hone your skills.

Life-08

9. The world costs a ton. This is the killer. The big pain and worry that you now have to deal with. Turn this negative into a positive by playing the game. See how much you can save off of this or that item by shopping around. Never pass up free. Oh, and coupons are your best friend.

coupons

Nothing says “welcome to life” more than college. For those about to enter college – don’t despair! The challenges are easily overcome with decent awareness and diligence.

I’m Back! (Momentarily)

It has been quite a while since I have made an effort to do anything of significance on my website. After I returned from Ecuador, I found that many habits had shifted. My time emphasis moved around and many of my projects in progress were put to the wayside for further evaluation. I did not desire to work on the website at the time, partially because I had to figure out my schooling (I switched my major from one engineering discipline to another) and the other because I had to re-figure my priorities.

Ecuadorian Flag

The Ecuadorian flag flies high over the city of Guayaquil

Now that I seem to have a better grasp on what is whirling around (and the fact that I have been decently bored recently, having taken out “videos and other moving-visual media” out of my week for Lent). I had an extra few hours on my hands today, so I came back here to poke around and found that there is still so much that I can–that I want–to do on this blog. So as a little kick-starter to celebrate my re-entrance into the blogging world, I want to announce that all the Running Man links are fixed (yes, all 190 episodes…)! I will continue to maintain some of the video-entertainment side, but I am switching the emphasis here. I don’t particularly want this site to be known as the “site to find -Insert TV Show-” rather I want to build a community where there is more or less an exchange and presentation of new and different perspectives: an interactive community.

It shames me to see good ideas go uncontested. Why? Not just for the sake of argument, but because contesting a present point means that the reader isn’t silent. Too much of my generation has been pulled into the devastating cycle of absorb and consume without a thought to contribute a comment or opinion. On the other hand, trolling just to troll is not acceptable. I’m sure most can agree with that. But those well-thought-out arguments, the cases with evidence and reasoning, should be encouraged much more than it is. Don’t be a silent surfer, but don’t be brash. Speak up.

I have decided that I want to make this more of a blog community rather than an “official website” or anything of that nonsense. I want to get to know the CultureQuote community more and present the quirkiness I find around me everyday (feel free to point out any quirks you have noticed of your own). I know this is a lofty goal, all in all, but I also know that the international blog-o-sphere community is great. Please don’t be shy to proffer opinions for improvements or even simply drop a line for something cool you’d like to see. And thank you for all of your continued support.