How is it that I had to come to Korea to learn about the Italian bread Ciabatta? I mentioned before that at Trevor's bar they serve a sandwich using this bread, and I learned that he buys it at the local Costco. So, last trip to Costco I bought myself some of these sandwich buns. They are really great for sandwiches, and I also used them for hamburger buns too. Don't know if they're available at the Costco store in the USA or not. I also got a package of three different kinds of sandwich meats, only one of which I can identify (the salami).
I was also able to track down tortillas. I asked at the Paris Baguette bakery a couple weeks ago, since one of the items they serve is made with a tortilla. After a lot of confusion, the owner finally realized my question and told me that I could buy them at the nearby Homever store. I had to postpone a Homever trip for over a week, because they workers were on strike. Finally after they re-opened, I wound my way through about 50 policemen stationed outside to shop.
Of course, it seemed to me the most logical person to ask was the baker. I asked a helper at the store bakery, and he had no idea what a tortilla was. A store manager then helped me, and using his radio, and a few stops at the wrong ailses, we finally found them.
This is the second time I have had difficulty with the bakery staff at this store. The first time was when I asked for Hamburger Buns. The clerk assured me that they didn't sell them, when at the last minute one of the senior bakers overheard the discussion and immediately came to help me. He assured me that the DID sell hamburger buns, and took me straight to them. I can understand a Korean not knowing about tortillas, but surely they all know what a hamburger bun is... strange.
A couple of weeks ago, when I went to dinner with JI and his English Academy friends, I came home on the subway. That subway trip was unusual, because I met two English speaking Koreans. First, while I was waiting at the station, I heard a fellow speaking perfect English on his phone. When he hung up, I went to him and asked how he learned to speak English so well. Turns out he was a Korean, but grew up in New York! He was a lawyer and this was his first trip back to Korea, working for clients on FTA-related matters. We had a nice but short conversation, as he only took two stops before arriving at his station. Just moments after he left the train, another Korean man came up to me and started a conversation in English. This man, MHG, had lived in San Francisco for a couple of years. He is now living in Korea, but his family still lives in SF while the children attend American school. This situation is so common in Korea, they have a name for this ... "Wild Geese" fathers. It turns out that he got off the train at the same station, and then I discovered he lives in an apartment building just a block away from me. We exchanged business cards.
Last night, I was watching "Ocean's Eleven" which I rented from the DVD shop. I want to see again Ocean's 11 and 12, before I watch the new one Ocean's 13. In the middle of the movie, I get a call from MHG asking if I would like to meet him for a couple of beers. I agreed, and we went to a place nearby that has live singers. I should say HAD live singers. The shop was closed! We ended up in an extremely small bar just across the street from my apartment. We had a very nice time, mostly speaking in English, but I got to practice my Korean a few times. Also, sometimes he and the owner would speak in Korean, and I was impressed that I am able to understand more and more of Korean conversations these days. I was surprised how much MHG knew about American history. I think this must be a particular area of interest for him. I had a pleasant time, and it was a welcome 1-1/2 hour break from my movie.