Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why I'm Not Super Homesick for Western Food

So, lots of people have been asking me what I miss about America, and there are a few things that I of course miss, like being able to understand what's going on most of the time in terms of conversation.

Of course, I miss my friends and family like crazy. That's a given.

But usually what people miss a lot is the food, like in Italy I missed bagels like craaaazy because they just didn't have them. But here in Korea, I can actually get a ton of things like peanut butter, bagels, mac & cheese, etc.

One thing I worried I would miss would be comfort foods, like fast food. Sometimes when you're homesick, you just want something you used to eat all the time at home (like for me, it's Taco Bell or BK). Living in Seoul, I have pretty easy access to just about any food that I could want.

If you're curious about what chains there are in Korea, this couple made a great video.

If you don't feel like watching, here's a rundown (keeping in mind that I don't actually eat all of this stuff. I haven't been to a lot of the places on the lists, like KFC, Domino's, Papa John's, etc, and I only occasionally frequent fast food joints. Korean food is so varied, and there are so many better, healthier options, that I don't bother with fast food unless I have an INTENSE craving for french fries or something):

I can get Domino's, Papa John's, and Pizza Hut. Actually, all three of these are within walking distance of my house.

There's Taco Bell (about a 20 min walk and they JUST got cheesy gordita crunches. I'm in heaven. This is the one place that I admit I frequent relatively often. Sorry not sorry), McDonald's (it's pretty high quality here, too), Burger King (there's one 5 min from my house if I'm desperate, but I've only been twice), the Korean version of McD's, Lotteria, Subway (also 5 min), KFC, and even Popeye's. There are a few quizno's but they aren't popular.

There are also a TON of Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme, which means I get my bagels when I'm craving them. And Baskin Robbins for my ice cream, or Starbucks if I'm craving fancier, more-overpriced-than-it-already-is-here-in-Korea coffee. If not, there are at least 7 chains that are all over the place, with small, non chain cafes interspersed. Seriously, on any given corner of Hongdae, you can see like a minimum of 4 coffee places within a 2 minute walking radius.

Other chains include Outback Steakhouse, TGI Fridays, Bennigans, none of which I've been to, but all of which are in Hongdae, which means they're within like a half an hour MAX if I'm walking.

Aside from that, there's the foreigner food markets in Itaewon, which also houses a lot of foreign pubs, where I go if I'm craving things like fish and chips and beer that isn't Cass. There's a pub called the Wolfhound, an Irish Pub, that carries Magner's Cider, an old favorite from my London days, so on some special occasions I head out there for a treat (celebrating 6 months here, for example).

You can find everything in Seoul- Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian, Italian (some places even have non sweet garlic bread! Koreans came up with the ungodly notion that garlic bread should be sweet. I don't know why. Some places have rectified this egregious error), etc, and there are a variety of great, classier western style places that aren't fast food. I've got a good list of places where I can get a great burger if I want it.

And bottom line, I also really like Korean food. And there's a great variety of it, from BBQ to street food, kimbap to bibimbap, and everything in between. There are like 3 or 4 chain Korean restaurants just a short walk from my apartment, as well as a variety of fried chicken places, which are also extremely popular. Plus I live like 5 min from the grocery store, so I can go grab something to cook up for dinner on my way home from work. Sure, it may take me a while to figure out where it is in the store, or whether it's actually chicken or not, haha, but still.

So there you have it. For all of you wondering how I'm dealing with Western food withdrawal, the answer is I'm not dealing with it because I don't have to! I can still get tacos at 2 am if I so choose, so I'm a pretty happy, well fed camper!

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