Saturday I went on a much needed shopping trip with SY to the local store. SY came to take me in her new (well, 1998 model) car. The store is just under a mile away, but it was raining and the traffic was bad. Worse still, the main street we arrived on was just past the parking lot entrance, so we had to drive around the block to get to the parking lot. SY complained to me that she was already regretting selling the motor scooter and getting a car. The car is great for driving long distances on the hiway, but is not so great for short trips in Seoul, she said. I suspect she will soon have a scooter again.
Most of these large stores have a small glass enclosed "hut" at the entrance to the parking lot, where a lady dressed in very nice clothes, and wearing white gloves is stationed. She goes through some very complicated hand motions, almost dance-like, to usher you into the parking lot. The closest equivalent in America would be the WalMart greeter, I suppose. So, being properly ushered into the parking lot we finally found a space and parked.
I love shopping at these large stores, this one in particular. They have many samples available throughout the store. We violated the #1 rule of shopping, because we were both hungry, and probably bought more food than necessary. I can't begin to explain all the great sights, smells and tastes of the shopping trip, but let me present a photo of my favorite Korean mushroom. If anyone can tell me what the English name is for this, I would appreciate it. I would really like to find some of these back in America when I return.
Because of my girth, and some messages from Mrs. Stumbler, SY was trying to select some more healthy and low-fat foods for me this trip. We got some low fat milk (although SY told me it costs a little more than regular milk). When we bought the pork for grilling, she chose one that had visibly less fat than normal (again, it was a little more pricey). We also got some reportedly low-fat ham (which looks suspiciously like a variation of SPAM to me). Also oranges, broccoli, shrimps, tofu, and many other good foods.
After filling up the cart, we headed back for some serious cooking and eating. I bought a special item on this trip, one I have been meaning to get for several months now. It is a small table-top grill. Besides being useful here in Korea, I plan to take it back home with me for use at home. But after I got home and started to use it, I began to wonder if the same size butane gas cylinders are available in America. I have consulted with Brother Stumbler, who is an expert on portable gas cooking and lighting appliances - hopefully he can provide some insight. Here is the new grill cooking it's first food.
We ate the grilled pork, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, kimchi, and my favorite spicy tofu stew, and of course rice. We were both stuffed. (To compensate for the overeating, I ate salad and left over broccoli for breakfast this morning). I also have a big pan full of fried rice in the fridge for today's main meal, and left over stew.
I was thwarted from getting a good photo of SY car because of the rain. I tried to get one in the parking garage, but the light was too poor. I was shocked to learn that this small car costs almost $50 to fill up with gas! SY said that a somewhat larger 4-door sedan, about the size of the Mazda 626 I have at home, for example, would cost about $100 to fill up! And an SUV costs about $150 to fill up! Wow!!!! I'm glad we decided not to get a car here in Korea, although gas prices never entered my mind in the decision. Yikes.