Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Ddeok Days of Late Winter
... I would say "early Spring", but it's still too cold to herald the early coming of a new distinct season here in Korea. I would love to ride my bike to work, but there should be warmer weather to accompany such activity. There are buds on the trees, and there's plenty of blue sky some days, but the cold... it cuts. I was riding my bike as late as mid December last year, but that's because I had taken the time to grow accustomed to the change through the fall. I'm a big baby.
Anyway, today marked the first arrival of the gifts of ddeok (Korean rice cake). It comes in all forms - some smooth and pasta-like, and others more flaky and fluffy, such as in the photo above. Ddeok is traditionally given to the new co-teachers of a former colleague here in the public school system in Korea. Being that we've received a whole load of new teachers in return for ours that left, we've been getting a steady stream of ddeok from our new colleagues old ones - the gifts serve as a "please take care of Mrs. Lee in her new surroundings" kind of gesture. These gifts are usually followed-up with a visit from old colleagues who tour their friend's new facilities and meet and greet the new folk.
I like the tradition, and I've out my name out there to be included in upcoming visits of teachers who have recently left my school. It's easy to get forgotten in the general mess of the first month of school, but I'll try to tag-along on the visits when I can.
Ddeok, for its part, is something I'm happy to have taken a shining to. It's not all delicious, and the texture might freak a few people out as it did, me, at first. But, it's a nice filling little treat that actually comes in some healthy variations from time to time.