There are some many things people take for granted. Shelter, transportation and food. With food, if you need something to prepare a meal you simply go to the store and buy it. So what happens when you are in a completely foreign country and have yet to learn anything more than ‘hello/goodbye’?
After my hot dog experience with Kraft Dinner, I decided that using the extra hot dogs in spaghetti would be a bad idea I immediately thought of ground beef. Great, so I’ve decided what to get…..now how do I get it?
A lot of English words are made more difficult by the Koreans adding a vowel at the end of a word that ends with a consonant. For example ‘finish’ becomes ‘finishee’. It is slightly less odd when a word like ‘village’ gets turned into ‘villagee’, which at least makes more sense by trying to pronounce a letter that is there but subdued when vocalized in English. So I toyed with the idea of trying to make ground beef sound foreign by walking over to the store and asked for ‘grounduh beefuh’ but I just couldn’t bring myself to sound that dumb.
Being the geek that I am, I went to the tools I knew best….the Internet. Specifically I used Babelfish. Some of you might wonder why I didn’t use Google Translate, being a bit of a Google Fan. Well, Babelfish has a bit of a geek history so there is a fondness for using something related to HHGTTG.
So I simply typed in ‘ground beef’ and choose to translate it to Korean and I’ll simply write it out to bring with me. In case you haven’t seen the Korean written language (called Hangul), it’s related to Chinese/Japanese. A lot of lines and slashes and circles arranged in some sort of order. I was kinda hoping it wasn’t an overly complicated bunch of lines that I would be able to easily copy and bring with me. Turns out I was right.
So, armed with this, I headed over to the store. First I decided to just look for it. Ground beef is pretty easy to find. I found nothing. Ok, time to whip out the note. I held it up to one lady and said ‘ground beef?’, opting for standard English. She said ‘yeh’ (which is yes….oddly, so is ‘neh’…I think it’s kinda like yes and yeah….) and then she proceeded to look for it. She couldn’t find it and directed me to another lady behind the meat counter. She said she had it (well, in Korean but I got the meaning) and finished with her current customer.
Well, what she did was get some beef out from the big freezer behind her and cut off some pieces. She was going to grind it right there. I asked her to do a bit bigger/more beef. She ground it up and handed me the bag.
I brought it to the cashier, paid the 8130KRW (about $8) for 328grams (I think?? Not sure if I’m reading the package right). Probably the most expensive beef I ever bought but at least I can say I did it all on my own and now can make some food with better meat for dinner for us tonight.