Wednesday, September 19, 2012

팥빙수. The Breakfast of Champions.

So last week I went to visit my friend Jennifer down in Naju for the night.  Naju is a little town south of Gwangju, about 45 minutes (or an hour) on a bus.  It was great; she has a guestroom!  We ate at the most awesome galbi restaurant ever and watched French Kiss with Meg Ryan.  I secretly want to be her, or at least as quirky and adorable as she is.  Oh Meg Ryan, why did you have to cheat on Dennis Quaid and lose your claim on the title "America's Sweetheart"?

Anyway, on the bus back to Gwangju the next morning, we were stopped at a red light and this team of Koreans was set up on the corner with a tent, handing out food to passers-by!  One of the guys brought a tray up to the bus and motioned for the lady in front of us to open her window, then handed her two bowls of something-or-other, then came back to our window and handed us two as well!  It was patbingsu!! (팥빙수!!)  

Patbingsu is a desert made of ice flakes (like a plain shaved-ice snow cone), covered in sweet red beans (a very Korean addition to desert) and corn flakes, with different types of fruit.  I love the stuff now, but at first the red beans REALLY threw me.  The first patbingsu I had was covered in some bean dust stuff, which had a pretty strange texture.  Texture's a big deal between me and food, so that hurt my opinion of it.  Then one day, a student's mom brought strawberry patbingsu up to the school for the teachers once and I really loved it, so now I'm down with other types as well.  The ice flakes are pretty awesome and light and cold and it's just a great summer treat.  There are tons of patbingsu options if you don't like the basic kind.  Different places serve it different ways, so you may try it several times and have a different opinion each time.  

So, yeah, there we were on the bus getting handed breakfast by a stranger with a tray outside our window.  In the States, I might have been worried about taking food from Strangers... but this is Korea.  And it was delicious.  

팥빙수.  The Breakfast of Champions.   

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