Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our visit to America Street

Due partly to not being able to find food that fully satisfies, and partly just out of curiosity, Sara and I took a trip to America Street. Named by its proximity to a US Military base, America Street is filled with GIs, expats and shops to serve them.

In the other parts of Seoul we've been to, like the part we live in, there is hardly any diversity at all - just Koreans, the occasional Chinese and the very rare Caucasian. America Street had a full range of ethnicity, which was nice to see. Shops were labeled in English and there was a wide variety of ethnic restaurants - Greek, Arabic, Indian, Mexican, Thai, Italian, etc. It seemed poignant at the time that what made me feel longing for home was restaurants serving food from foreign lands.

We of course went to a Mexican restaurant (we didn't have high hopes). I know it must be difficult to create a meal out of ingredients that aren't available... but I wonder if it is worth the trouble. The tortilla reminded me of a burrito I ate in college - it was a microwave burrito and I had forgotten to turn the microwave on. The beans were all wrong. The rice was Korean short grained white rice. The bell peppers were fresh and delicious. The sauce was canned chili with ground beef. The spices were based in Korean chili peppers.

Anyway, we wandered the street, making our way by cart after cart of fake Gucci purses. Listening to other Americans talk was painful at times - our reputation for being loud and obnoxious didn't come out of the blue. People were walking around shops drinking Budweiser. I saw a few prostitutes. I thought about getting a suit custom made.

I had expected to enjoy hearing people speaking English and being able to read words on signs and products. In reality, since Sara and I are trying to fit into Korean culture as best we can - but the people on America Street are just doing their thing, not trying to learn. You can't blame them really, as you get stationed wherever you get stationed, but I think for now we'll stick to the rest of the city.


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