I've been posting about all the fun and exciting things that I do, but as I settle into life here, I'm finding that I do fewer and fewer exciting things. Rather than post less often, I'll just write about the mundane.
Last night, I made soup.
I'd been looking forward to Friday night all week. Not for the reason normal people look forward to Friday nights; I was planning to stay in, write some non-blog-related things, and watch a movie. Every single night for the last week and a half I've had something to do, and I was so excited to have a night to myself.
I stayed after school for a while to make sure everything was ready for Monday. Usually, I bolt out the door the second I'm allowed to on Friday afternoons, but that leaves me with a mess of a Monday morning. I took my time and finished my work before heading home.
When I got to my apartment, I threw on a chick flick on my laptop and decided I was going to make dinner. I've cooked in my kitchen an embarrassing number of times - like four in two months - so I thought I'd put on my domestic hat for an evening. I stared at the cupboard for a while. Cheetos? No. Granola bars? No. Oreos? Well, maybe as a cooking snack. Munching my cookies, I finally resigned myself to the fact that I would need to break into the one can of stupid expensive chicken noodle soup I had purchased "for an emergency." (I don't know what kind of emergency requires canned soup as a solution, but nonetheless, I was prepared.)
Turning on the gas stove is always an adventure; I never know if I'm about to blow myself up, but the flame started without issue. I set the pan on the burner to heat up and reached up into the cupboard. As my hand lifted in the air, a voice ran through my mind. "You don't have a can-opener, you dummy." It probably wasn't God since God doesn't call me a dummy, but I gripped the can and prayed for a pop-top. Hallelujah! When I pulled the little tab, only a small part of the can opened, like the opening on a can of pop. I looked inside, wondering how the noodles and vegetables would fit through the tiny hole before it hit me: I had bought a crazy expensive can of broth.
Opening the can set off a timer in my head. "I have to make something with this broth before it goes bad! And I bet I only have an hour!" The thought didn't occur to me to put the can in the refrigerator until I had more ingredients; I needed to make soup, and I needed to do it now. I pulled down a bag of macaroni noodles and started heating up some water. I'd make noodle soup! But I didn't have any chicken. I looked at the stove for a while, trying to decide if it was worth it to turn the darn thing off and go buy chicken. I finally conceded that it was, turned off the gas, and headed to the mart next door.
Ah, the mart. I purchase my milk there once a week, but other than that, I never really go inside. It's full of things I don't recognize, and while the man behind the counter is delightfully friendly, he doesn't speak a lot of English. I walked in and scanned the veggies first. "Chicken noodle soup needs carrots and celery!" I told myself. I found a massive carrot the size of my foot and a cucumber (because vegetables that start with the same letter all taste the same, apparently) and went down to the meat freezer. There was very little to choose from, and none of it looked like chicken. I pulled out the cheapest one and went to the man at the counter. "Chicken?" He shook his head no, so I went back and got another. "Chicken?" This time, he shook his head and waved his arms, as though my question had been the most serious thing he'd dealt with all day. Not having any other options, I held onto the meat and went back to the vegetable case, hoping this time there would be a magical bag of pre-chopped soup veggies I could just dump in a pan. That's when I heard some English.
Tiffany smiled and asked me what I was making. I proudly displayed my ingredients and told her I had a can of broth at home and was going to make soup. I could see her calculating in her mind whether I was serious. "So, you're gonna make soup with broth, a carrot, a cucumber, and some unidentified meat?" I debated for a second whether telling her that I planned to chop the carrot would make the "she's an idiot" expression go away, but I settled instead on saying that I also had macaroni at home to add. Tiff started taking things out of my hands and putting them away while she told me what I should do instead. She told me to walk to another mart, one that had a bigger selection, and get actual chicken, two potatoes, two packets of cream soup, and shredded cheese. After she ran through the recipe twice, I asked her where the other mart was. She was kind enough to not call me hopeless to my face, which I appreciate.
Remembering the open can of broth on my counter as a ticking time bomb, I practically ran to the other mart. I walked to the back and got my chicken then headed to the vegetable area to find potatoes. I know enough about cooking to know that red-skinned potatoes are better than regular ones, so I tried to find those first. There were three bins of grown-underground somethings: one held regular potatoes, and two held red blobs. Unfortunately, none of the red blobs were potato-shaped. I picked one up from each bin and considered them for a moment, imagining how disappointed I'd be if I got home and discovered I had purchased a radish or something equally not a potato. Choosing to be safe, I grabbed two plain potatoes and tossed them in a bag. I found the cheese and cream soup mix and headed home.
At home, I followed the directions just as Tiffany had given them to me, and after about an hour, I sat down on my bed with a steaming bowl of potato soup. I curled up with my blanket and finished How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, insanely proud of my ability to create something edible, even if it wasn't my own idea in the slightest. Tiff came up to check on me and my soup a little bit later, and I ended up heading down to her apartment to eat cookies and drink plum wine until we were both ready to pass out - about midnight.
And thus ends my thrilling Friday night in Korea.