"Have you ever had Beijing Duck?" my co-teacher asked me as we drove to our staff dinner on Monday night.
"No," I replied. "In fact, I don't think I've ever had duck."
After Mrs. P recovered from her shock, we walked into the restaurant to be greeted with the pungent spices of red pepper garnished on cabbage - Kimchi - a staple, here in Korea.
I took my seat at the dinner table as waiters rushed in and out of the private party room my school had rented for the occassion. It was the school's 101st birthday, so they were celebrating in style.
As I looked around me I took in the scene: side dishes that ranged from coldslaw and bean sprouts to kimchi and kimchi lined the tables.
Yes, if I haven't mentioned it before, Koreans LOVE their Kimchi. I've even been forced to have it for breakfast while here. The thing about it is that it's not bad. It's actually quite tasty. But I don't get the savoury way they indulge in it. Literally, chomping, lip-smacking goodness, if you watch them closely while they eat.
Mrs. K makes it a point to announce how delicious it is everytime I eat lunch in the staffroom with them. "Deeeeleeeeciiiooous," she says, as she digs her chopsticks into a bowl-full.
Sitting at the table was quite the adventure. As I waited for the other teachers to take their places around me, I was educated on the reasons why Koreans love taking time to eat together.
"This is how we socialize," said Mrs. C. "Koreans always take time to eat together."
I realized this very quickly after entering the country. Barely anyone eats alone. And eating is a ritual. I truly think Babs would love it here... no one ever stops feeding you.
Anyway, I was already apprehensive about eating duck. I'd never tried it before so I wasn't quite sure what I was in for.
Just as I watched the pieces of meat sizzle and fry on the hot plate in front of me, one of the science teachers piped in with a big smile on her face: "S! DONALD DUCK!" she shouted over the table, as she pointed her chopsticks towards the meat.