At home, when I’m lazy I eat out. It costs more, isn’t as good for me, isn’t likely to be a local owner, might have iffy service, and probably doesn’t taste as good as home cooking.
Here, it’s the opposite.
If once or twice a day, I make an effort go eat Korean food, I get food that is local, quick, affordable and healthy. For less than $5, and often less than $4, I can have a great meal.
On a break this morning, a coworker and I went to a cafe called (originality!) “Food Cafe”. I had dumpling soup for breakfast for 3500 won (about $3). She had Kimchi fried rice, and to go tuna sushi (Tuna kimbap). Our total was 10,500 won or about $10.
For lunch, yesterday, I went for Bibimkalguk or mixed vegetable soup, for 4000 won (about $3.80) and the day before for Bibimbap (mixed vegetables and rice) also for 4000 won.
I’m pretty wiped out after teaching sometimes, so I have to force myself to eat out. But if I do, I know I’ll get something fabulous, hearty and healthy!
When I don’t, I end up eating some random items from the convenience store: milk, bananas, digestive cookies (to remind me of Ghana, I guess), and it costs more for a snack than for a full meal.
Worse yet, is going for coffee. You can’t generally order my preference, which is a small coffee with room for cream. So, instead it’s an Americano and trying to explain milk on the side (a ‘foreign’ concept), or a cappuccino or latte, which all cost 3500 won (…the same price as a full Korean meal!)
Going for coffee does have the benefit that it feels like home. Today, when I walked into Starbucks with a friend, I felt a strange thing happen. As I opened the door, all worries melted way as I walked into the familiar layout and decor. That didn’t last long. As soon as I stepped up to the counter and looked at the menu, and not seeing “Coffee” or “koppi” (as it’s called here), I remembered suddenly where I was. Oh yeah, I’m in Korea where I don’t know how to order a small coffee with cream at Starbucks.