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Monday Market – Persimmons (연시 – 홍시)

Posted in Food and Drink, fruit, Monday Market (Theme), seasons by 노강호 on November 16, 2011

'yeon-shi,' one of my favourite autumn fruits

I’ve written several times about the persimmon which in Korea, like the octopus, has three different names depending characteristics. For some reason ‘3’ always seems to be associated with food though I’m sure it’s coincidence. You’re supposed to wash cabbages three times after salting and I was taught to rinse rice three times before cooking. I took this photo a month ago as the first flush of soft persimmon, known as ‘yeson-shi’, appeared in the market. I love this type of persimmon and several years ago built a stock-pile in my freezer which lasted into mid spring. Actually, I ended up so tired of them I hardly bought any the following year.  Now I want to eat them but unfortunately am restricted by my diet. However, I couldn’t resist buying some just to photograph. The first flush of yeon-shi are particularity delicate and beautiful but their colour quickly changes as autumn progresses.

very similar to the slightly larger and more heart-shaped 'hong-shi.'

persimmons hanging on local trees

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Related articles

The Intricacies of Persimmon (Bathhouse Ballads Nov 2010)

Interlude – Soft Persimmons (Bathhouse Ballads Oct 2010)

They mystery of the persimmons (militaryzerowaste.wordpress.com)

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An Autumn morning in the Rose Garden (장미공원)

Posted in Daegu, Diary notes, Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons, video clips by 노강호 on November 29, 2010

blaze of autumn

In Autumn, you can often kick or push a small tree and the leaves fall like snow.  Last weekend I noticed several people , mostly couples, kicking trees and then getting all excited as they stood in the brief leaf storm.  In England, the air to usually too damp for the leaves to turn crispy and English leaves, sodden, soggy and sloppy, are notorious for sabotaging our rail network. Indeed, in just a few days the trees in one road,  golden yellow, have been blown barren by a bitter wind that bites your face.  In my UK garden, the defoliation of summer’s leaves is a long and slow process and even late December some leaves will have avoided being blown off.

These photographs were taken on or around 18th of November, which is actually winter rather than autumn, when most of the trees still had leaves and they were at their most dramatic. Most were taken around 7.30 in the morning with a frost over the ground and light mist in the air.

autumn colours

Autumn across the rose garden

contrasts

while I took these photos, suneung was just about to begin

the chong-cha (정자) at the rose garden's center

it's easy to see why the hanja character for autumn, is a combination of tree and fire

another blaze

rose, high rise and mountain

in the background is the boys' high school where the suneung was about to start

rose and high rise

and then home

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Comparing the Intensity of the Memi (매미) Song Across Summer

Posted in Animals, Diary notes, seasons, video clips by 노강호 on November 28, 2010

This is just a boring snippet for those interested in insects and in particular, the memi (cicada – 매미). Suprisingly, my posts on the memi have attracted considerable hits so I have put the three video-clips together. Before watching, I’d advise you turn down your volume, especially if you are wearing headphones. The memi song can damage your hearing!

All vodcasts were recorded in the same location at approximately the same time of day.

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Monday Market -Oriental Quince (모과) Chaenomeles sinensis

Posted in Nature, oriental Medicine, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on November 16, 2010

oriental quince bonsai

Another portent that winter is approaching is the appearance of the oriental quince, mo-ghwa (모과). Unlike the quince found in parts of Europe and North Africa where its uses, depending on climate and hence proportions, span from making jams and jelly to a substitute potato, the oriental quince is mostly used in oriental medicine and as tea. However, the mo-ghwa’s predominant use is as an ornamental air freshener. Don’t expect wonders! It won’t clear the smell of fried mackerel or unpleasant toilet odours and neither is one potent enough to scent an entire room but for scenting corners or enclosed spaces, a car being ideal, they are successful. I have one sitting on my desk and  it subtly scents that corner of my room.

moghwa (모과)

by the bowl

Moghwa have a very waxy skin in which the scent is contained and they sort of look quite attractive. The scent is similar to that of a fruity apple. The cost varys from about a 1000 won upwards and ideally you should buy one unblemished as these will last well into spring. Supermarkets often sell them in a small basket.

oriental quince tree and fruit

At this time of year one can see many trees bearing fruits, dae-ch’u, unhaeng (ginkgo), persimmon and Asian pears, for example. However, it is illegal to pick fruits from any tree on sidewalks or parks as the trees are not public property.

When buying one, especially from street vendors where they are much cheaper, avoid ones with blemishes or other forms of damage. A good moghwa will last the entire winter and into spring but a badly chosen one can be brown and rotted within a few weeks!


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Monday Market – The Intricasies of Persimmon – 감

Posted in Uncategorized by 노강호 on November 3, 2010

 

persimmon tree

You know the cold weather is well on its way when the various nuts and persimmon begin to appear in markets. Persimmon (감) appears in several varieties both astringent and non-astringent. The non-astringent variety is eaten hard, almost the same hardness as an apple, and the the astringent variety can only be eaten in a soft and pulpy state.

The harder, non-astringent variety is known as dan-kam (단감) and it is the smaller and rounder of varieties which is a much lighter orange often with a tint of green. At first glance it often resembles a slightly unripened, large tomato.

dan-kam 단감 persimmon

as dan-kam often appear in supermarkets

Hong-shi (홍시), are a much larger variety and a little heart shaped and they vary in softness between a ripe tomato and a very soft bag of jelly.

a hong-shi (홍시) persimmon, bright orange, large and heart shaped

Another soft variety, almost identical in taste and texture to the hong-shi, is the yeon-shi (연시). This is similar in shape to the dan-kam but much darker, brighter orange and soft.

yeon-shi 연시 similar in size to the dan-kam but eaten soft

Yeon-shi and hong-shi are very sweet and in their ripest state, resembling a bag of jelly, need to be transported with care as they burst very easily. Both types are perfect for freezing, losing non of their sweetness and I have had no problem keeping them well into spring. What flavour they do have is very mild but their jam-like innards are enjoyable.

an abundance of market yeon-shi. (The universality of green grocer's spelling; unless mistaken, these are not hong-shi and further, 'shi' is spelt incorrectly.

G’ot-kam (곶감) is  a different astringent variety again and is usually dried. The fruits are often left hanging on trees to be bleeted by the first frosts which speeds up the ripening process prior to drying.They are quite delicious and similar to dried apricots.

got-kam 곶감

To confuse matters further, both hong-shi and yeon-shi can be bought unripened but they are not pleasant to eat and may cause stomach blockages (phytobezoars). In the unripened state they are known as daeng-kam (땡감) and should be allowed to ripen which can even take place at room temperature (around 20 degrees).

Persimmon Uses

Dan-kam is cut and eaten like an apple while softer versions can be  cut as you would a boiled egg and scooped out. In Korea, you are privileged to buy persimmons that are super ripe and I quite like to simply puncture the skin and suck the innards out. It is a very enjoyable experience especially if the fruit is chilled.

 

persimmon sorbet (Independent UK)

You can also find persimmon sorbet and many some cafes serve hong-shi / yeon-shi smoothies which are quite delicious.

A Korean non-alcoholic drink is based on persimmon,

su-cheong-gwha

And then there is persimmon vinegar (감식초) which is what is known as a ‘drinking vinegar’ the drinking of which is seen as health promoting (Link on Korean ‘drinking vinegar).

persimmon vinegar (감식초)

Persimmon leaf tea (감잎차)

persimmon leaf tea

Some Interesting Persimmon Facts

♦Eating unripened persimmons causes 82% of the cases of phytobezoars, these being abdominal obstructions caused by ingested matter. Unripe perssimmons contain high amounts of the tannin shibuol which on contact with weak gastic acids polymerizes, thus causing an obstruction. Phytobezoar epidemics occur in areas where persimmons are grown and though surgery has sometimes been required to remove them, depolymerization is effected by drinking coca-cola. (see Wikipedia).

♦Recently, persimmon wood, related to ebony, has been used by by bowmen in the traditional manufacture of longbows.

♦Originally, persimmon wood was used to manufacture the highest quality golfing ‘woods’ before being largely replaced by ones made of metal.

♦A persimmon fruit is technically a ‘ true berry.’

♦Sharon Fruit is a trade name for the D. Kaki variety of persimmon which is ripened via chemicals. The Daily Mail article linked below gives some suggestions on using this but in the UK I have found this fruit quite expensive and unpleasant. Leaving the fruit to become soft didn’t seem to work and given they were the size of an egg,  no substitute for soft persimmon. Sharon Fruit is definitely an ersatz version of  persimmon.

♦And yet another fruit claimed to ward of heart attack. According to the Daily Mail (link below), Sharon Fruit can prevent clotted arteries. However, I’m skeptical as the research was carried out by Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and of course, the fruit is grown in this area.

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Camel Cricket – 곱등이- Rhaphidophoridae

Posted in Animals, seasons by 노강호 on October 27, 2010

The rather ugly camel-cricket (곱등이)

Okay! Here’s a really ugly insect you might see seeking sanctuary as the weather gets colder. The camel cricket (곱등이) is a rather prehistoric looking insect related to the New Zealand weta. They are often found in caves and dark damp places and in some cases never see daylight but also reside in forests and buildings, especially basements.  They are nocturnal and unlike other crickets (뀌뚜라미), do not chirp.  They are characterised by long legs and antennae. Cave dwelling species, living in continual darkness have been known to eat their own limbs if food is scarce. Apart from their ugliness, they are harmless though their defence mechanism is to jump towards a threat rather than away from it.

Probably one of the last insects you will see before winter

The Korean camel-cricket has a somewhat bad reputation as it is associated with the parasitic worm Koreans call the yeon-ka-shi  (연가시).

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Interlude (1) – 홍시 – Soft Persimmon

Posted in Interlude (Theme), Korean language by 노강호 on October 24, 2010

They’re like a bright orange bag of jelly, the shape of a tennis ball and although they’re relatively tasteless, basically just very sweet, there is something pleasant about them. Like a number of Korean foods, the most noted probably being octopus, one ‘product’ can have several different names rather like the English ‘grape,’ when dried, can be a ‘currant,’ ‘raisin,’ or ‘sultana.’   While persimmons, are  generally called, ‘kam’ ( 감), the specific name for the highly ripened variety is, ‘hong-shi’ ( 홍시).  ‘Yeon-shi’ (연씨) is a similar soft variety but smaller and rounder.

'hong-shi; - like a bag of jelly

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Monday Market – Peaches 복숭아

Posted in Diary notes, fruit, seasons by 노강호 on October 20, 2010

Like the persimmon, which is just starting to appear, peaches have different names for different types: some are hard, some medium and the most prized, very soft, is white.

Peaches towards the end of the season

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Tissue Trauma

Posted in bathhouse Ballads by 노강호 on October 19, 2010

 

Not suitable for pumpkin people

I was cooling off last night in the cold pool at the bathhouse. With the evenings still a little warm, at least if you’re western, the cold pool is still not too cold. Many Koreans started wrapping themselves up three weeks ago. The memi (매미) only had to stop singing, at just under 29 degrees, for some to start complaining about ‘the cold.’  The last memi I heard was on Saturday 25th of September and given Daegu is one of the warmest parts of Korea throughout the year, I would imagine the Memi stopped singing earlier, further north.

The following week, was still warm and I sweated in class despite the use of air conditioning and a fan but already some students had begun shimfing about it being cold. ‘Teacher! Teacher! I cold! Turn off air-con!” They whined. Like it’s fucking 28 degrees Celsius!  That week I really enjoyed walking home in the evening because there was just the tiniest touch of coolness floating in the air.  Suddenly there were only a handful of people on the street in short-sleeved shirts. And now it’s mid-October, I notice my shower is a little too uncomfortable to use without increasing the temperature. For the last few months even the coldest setting had become warm. And in my school some teachers have already started that typically Korean custom of wearing a coat all day long.

 

cooling off

 

So, in the bathhouse the cold pool (냉탕) is empty. Six weeks ago it was at its busiest. A friend I haven’t seen for a while came and spoke to me. He’s slightly older than me and incredibly fit. He has a short stocky body and is a regular in the gym where he runs for 45  minutes on the treadmill, at a fast pace. He has this habit of entering the cold pool, which you can just about swim in, by springing over its side and into the water. Most of the schoolboys don’t do that and instead enter by the steps or climb into the pool.

 

tissue trauma

We chat for a while, me draped over the pool ledge and him standing. Then he takes his leave and tells me he wants to have a shower and will come back and join me. As he turns around, I notice a white flash from his buttock and walking into brighter light realise he has a few inches of toilet paper dangling out of his crack. I grin to myself and then momentarily ponder which is the greater embarrassment, a bogey hanging out of your nose or residue bog paper clamped between your checks like an insistent napkin.? Instantly, I choose the bog paper because you can so easily tell someone they have a bogey hanging, you simply touch your nose in a particular manner, and they will understand; it’s a discrete and universally understood hand sign. But how do you convey to someone they have paper hanging out their arse? There’s no universal ‘sign’ and I wouldn’t want to risk saying anything in Korean which might compound the problem. Do you discretely touch your buttocks or point around to them?

Without actually verbalizing the problem, I would imagine the only way you could draw attention to it would be to tug on it, like yanking a doorbell or pulling the chain of a toilet!  You  wouldn’t want to tug on it too much or it might pull out and who knows what’s on the other end or how much might  be dragged out.  Best is probably a small tug, just enough to announce a presence  rather than raise an alarm.  By the time I’d finished pondering, the dilemma was over and he was  safely in the shower where the offending bog paper, sloughing down the backs of his legs, started its voyage to the drain. And luckily for him, I don’t think anyone else noticed.

 

 

envirnomentally friendly method

 

 

all too often the problem in Korea

 

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Cricket Song (귀뚜라미)

Posted in Animals, seasons, vodcast by 노강호 on October 18, 2010

I captured the sound of a lonesome cricket (귀뚜라미) on a recent trip up the mountain.

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