Elwood 5566

Red Pepper and Bean Paste Stew – My Recipes

Posted in Food and Drink, Kimchi Gone Fusion by 노강호 on July 31, 2011

Key Features: Korean fusion / very healthy / adaptable

red pepper and bean paste stew and black bean tea (까만콩 자)

This is probably one of my favourite Korean meals and it originated from a recipe for o-geo-chi kalbi doen-chang guk (우거지 갈비 된장국). It is very versatile and I often eat if for breakfast but with a larger portion, rice and side dishes it becomes a filling dinner. O-geo-chi is basically the outer leaves of cabbage (Napa/Chinese) or any other vegetables.

I have found Koreans tend to be quite rule bound when it comes to cooking and I have even be critcised for putting pepper in food. Indeed, a number of Korean women have found the idea of combining bean paste and red pepper paste strange even though I originally found this recipe in a Korean-Korean cookbook.  You can use pork, especially belly pork (cut sam-kyeop style – that is the same cut as bacon before it is turned into bacon) or simply tofu. I have used numerous vegetables and sometimes even made it without o-geo-chi. I recently added some black beans at the same time I was making black bean tea (까만콩 자) and was reminded of German bean soup.

INGREDIENTS (for one)

• some outer leaves or spinach

•a pinch of small anchovies (myeolchi. Failing this use some form of stock)

• pork, (a few slices or pieces) and or tofu

• 1 desert spoonful of bean paste (mild) 된장

• 1 or 2 diced garlic cloves

• 1 desert spoon of sesame oil (optional)

• 1 desert spoonful of soy sauce (again I often omit this)

•1 teaspoon of red pepper (고추가루)

•a handful of any chopped vegetables, carrot, potato, leek, onion, mushroom, etc.

•small piece of chopped ginger.

•salt and pepper to taste (the pepper actually part of the original recipe)

•1 teaspoon of green perilla seed powder (들깨) or ground sesame

•sesame seeds

•3 cups of water

METHOD

1. Put everything, except the sesame seeds into a pot, bring to boil and then simmer for up to 30 mins depending on the type of meat, if any, you are using.

2. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste and if you wish a teaspoon of extra sesame oil (sometimes I don’t add any oil until this stage). Finally, sprinkle with some sesame seeds.

This stew can be eaten alone or with rice and side dishes.

OBSERVATIONS

VARIATIONS

Add kidney beans or black beans

Replace meat with some mackerel

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©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

Kimchi Potato Croquettes – My Recipes

Posted in Food and Drink, Kimchi Gone Fusion, My Recipes, recipes for Kimchi by 노강호 on June 24, 2011

delicious!

A local Japanese restaurant I use makes the most excellent potato croquettes and as cabbage and potato work well together, I tried combining them. The results were excellent and I ate far more than I should have done.

INGREDIENTS

Potato (approx 5 medium sized)

kimchi (finely chopped) 1 cup

1 onion (diced finely)

minari (미나리-though parsley would make an ideal substitute) Chopped.

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 egg (beaten in a bowl)

plain flour (in a bowl)

breadcrumbs (in a bowl)

oil for deep frying

Optional Fillings

Mozzarella, Brie, ham etc, even that pseudo Korean stretchy cheese

the assembled ‘balls’

METHOD

1. Boil the potatoes until cooked and then mash them over a low heat to remove moisture.

2. To the potato add the kimchi, onion, minari, sugar and soy sauce and mix together.

3. Arrange, in order, the mixture, and bowls of flour, egg and breadcrumbs

4. Taking the mixture, fashion it into  a ball a little larger than a golf ball. At this stage you can insert a cube of cheese into its center. Place each ‘ball’ on a plate until you have as many as you need.

6. Take each ball and and coat first with flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Place on a plate and complete the process with all ‘balls.’

7. Heat the oil until it is suitable for deep frying.

8. Carefully place the ‘balls’ into the oil and fry until golden brown when you can remove them onto greaseproof paper and continue with the next batch.

with a drizzle of sauce and salad

OBSERVATIONS

Mashing the potato over a low heat is crucial as removing any excess liquid stops the potato ‘balls’ falling apart.

VARIATIONS

I have also added 1 tablespoon of mushroom wine at stage 2

SERVING

Kimchi potato croquettes make an excellent snack or side dish but can easily constitute a lunch. I’ve eaten them cold and they are delicious but you can’t beat them straight from the fryer, hot and crispy. A suitable sauce, used in Japan and Korea is “Bulldog’ which is a brown sauce made with Worcester sauce. A drizzle of Terriyaki, Worcester Sauce or other brown-type sauces would be ideal but this is a matter of taste.

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©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

A Squirt of Fusion

Posted in Comparative by 노강호 on September 22, 2010

So scrumptious.....roast pork and roast potatoes

Every now and then I like a little blow out, partly as I love food and secondly, because I miss food associated with British culture. Unfortunately, few Korean foods fulfill the requirements necessary to satisfy the cultural preferences of my British palate. Flour, potato, oil, butter, bread, milk and cheese,  plus copious quantities  of meat, are  missing from most Korean meals.  Though I love Korean food, most can be described as ‘just…’ (그냥), meaning  okay, satisfying, but not scrumptious. Of course, this is just my personal opinion and some waygukin may actually think a few bean sprouts chucked in boiling water compares to  delights of Thai, Tom Yum or New England Clam Chowder.

bean sprout soup (콩나물 국)

I have attended a number of ‘feasts’ in Korea and find the word as much an exaggeration as  is the description ‘delicious.’  All too often Koreans will describe something as ‘delicious,’ but the moment your hypothetically offer them a choice between what ever the topic is and a Big Mac, and the Big Mac usually wins. Ironically, the Big Mac isn’t even a delicious example of a hamburger. Yesterday, one of my students told me he ‘loved’ bean sprout ‘soup’ (콩나물 국) and that it is ‘delicious’, but considering the boy is a little chubby, I suspect if it were a choice between bean sprout ‘soup’ or fried chicken, he’d choose the chicken. The Korean ‘feasts’ I have experienced could only be deemed such if you were on the brink of starvation, which is their possible origins, and comprised of the typical ‘just’ category foods such as: seaweed soup, five grain rice, and various kimchi. Sorry, but when you’re told your going to a ‘feast’ and your fed boring ban-chan (side dishes), it’s a bit of an anti-climax.

For most of my life in Korean, my cultural urges lay dormant and I find great satisfaction and pleasure in Korean cuisine but every so often I feel compelled to satiate deeper cravings and will seek out possible alternatives.

Pizza, unless it’s from Pizza Hut, Dominoes or Vince is usually disappointing; the cheese is that stretchy crap with no flavour. I once ordered a pizza with the cheese piped in the crust but when it arrived saw it was a ‘well being’ version. I order pizza so infrequently that when I do want one I don’t want ‘well being.’ Worse, the cheese had been made healthy by adulterating it with sweet potato. When Koreans make a pizza, the final touch always seems to involve squirting it with an assortment of gunk and sweet mustard and jam like sauces are all in vogue. And the final insult to any pizza, a perversion, are fruit toppings. Vince Pizza, which actually makes a fairly okay pizza, makes one topped with fruit. In Korea, with toppings such as bulgogi and sweet potato, often subsequently squirted in sweet gunk, the pizza is the epitome of fusion food.

cheese-less cheese

A pizza squirted in sweet gunk

Occasionally I like a sandwich though mayonnaise is always a requirement as this replaces the lack of butter. However, I have to keep  a close eye out as my local GS25 occasionally adds jam to a ham, ‘cheese’ and salad sandwich.

Corn Dog, isn’t too bad until it’s dunked in sugar and squirted with tomato sauce.

Pork Cutlet, don-gasse (돈까스) is one food that often quells my urges. This food originates from Japan where it is  called tonkatsu but considering the German influence on Japanese 19th century society,  I wonder if its origins are Germanic. Tonkatsu first appeared in Japan in the late 19th century and is similar to jagerchnitzel and Wiener schnitzel. It has been further fusionised by the addition, in the center,  of that stretchy cheese-less cheese, and often, on the edge of the plate. an adornment of tinned, diced fruit.

Don-gasse (Tonkatsu - 돈까스) Recipe link via photo (in Korea)

Korean style - 돈까스

Ironically, if I’m absent from Korean food for too long, I begin to suffer a  pon farr like yearning for kimchi, and more unusual Korean Fayre.

Creative Commons License© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

The Sounds of Silence – Noisy Eating

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Comparative by 노강호 on July 8, 2010

Slurp slurp, smack, smack...

I was watching the kids in my school eating around a table. The usual format presided with bouts of animated talking and then silence. Koreans talk much less than westerners during a meal as it suggests enjoyment but  the silent periods are never really silent because another means of expressing pleasure with food is to produce little noises of contentment as you eat. I was reminded of a friend back home who cringes whenever I eat toast in his presence. Eating toast silently is impossible, unless you’re into that Americanism of dipping it into your coffee the same way we British dunk their biscuits. Even with the moistest mouth, or lavishly lagged in rich butter,  toast crunches and it so happens such noises seriously disturb my friend, so much so that I can only ever eat it comfortably when he’s in another room.

Toast and butter

I love butter and in England melt a fat wadge of it into mashed potatoes, along with some milk and occasionally a raw egg, and always melt a knob or two on carrots, brussel sprouts or peas. I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight in Korea as milk, bread and butter, basically diary products,  no longer form a staple part of my diet. At one time all three kick started my day along with oil, bacon and egg and there were probably as many calories in my English breakfast as there are in my current, daily Korean menu. My weekly shopping in England included a pack of butter, a pint of milk a day, a large loaf and about 1 litre  of oil a month. And then there was the meat! Nothing less than two big pork chops for dinner, or a large piece of chicken. I rarely fry any food so oil, only ever sesame, is reduced to about  a litre a year. My consumption of meat, without any exaggeration is at least 5 times lower than it was back home while my consumption of vegetables is significantly up. Currently, I will eat an entire large carrier bag of spinach a week and one enormous water melon; the water melon alone takes more calories to carry to my apartment than will be contained within it. Most surprisingly of all is that my consumption of rice, the staple food in Korea, is much lower than when I lived in England. A portion of rice in Korea is not much more than a handful, the amount contained within one of those small stainless steel dishes. Whenever I’m served rice back home the amount can be as much as 4 times greater than this and the quality is poor. For most of my life rice has simply been rice with a few major divergences: pudding rice and sushi rice being the most obvious. But when you live on good quality rice for a few years you really notice how tasteless ‘British’ rice is. Even the upmarket brands are bland but in fairness Koreans probably see a potato as a potato and for most Koreans the epitome of french fries are the shit served by Macdonald’s. Jersey new  potatoes with a sprig of mint and coated in creamy butter! Now there’s an orgasm!

Pass the tissues!

Shopping in a Korean supermarket, even the big ones like Home Plus (Tesco) or E-Marte is boring and totally functional. There are few microwave meals, no meat pies, few jars or cans of cook-in sauces padded out with soya and corn by-products, little but fish, fruit and spam existing in cans, an absence of almost anything but yogurt and ice cream in the form of deserts and frozen goodies are limited. Only in Korea can I go shopping for an item and leave the premises only having bought that item. In the UK, if you enter a supermarket the chances are you will leave with far more than you originally planned to buy. Of course, there are ample goodies in a Korean supermarket, probably of more appeal if you are Korean, but as a westerner with a penchant for pastry, dairy and meat products, the choices are limited.

Creamy

My greatest weakness is butter and by that I mean real butter and not that fake crap verging on margarine that for over a decade we were hoodwinked into believing was healthy until it transpired the trans-fatty acids they contained were just as bad for you as real creamy fat. Thankfully, Like Korean cheese,  Korean butter, if you can get hold of it, is generally shite. I was at a buffet restaurant a year ago and tucked in a corner was a toaster and butter; indeed two types of butter, herb and garlic. I almost wet myself I was so excited. There I was, surrounded by barbecued meats, smoked duck, smoked salmon, fried rice and even fried chicken, and the first thing I go for is some toast and butter. The butter was rather pale, not deep yellow like Irish butter tends to be but more like French butter but this is no bad sign as pale butter can be extremely creamy. You can imagine my disappointment when after attaching a fat slice of butter to my hot toast, I discover its ‘well being shit’, butter made with water or some fat-free substitute that turned the toast to exactly the same consistency you get dunking it in coffee and which is ideal for the elderly and those whose mouths are predominantly gum. It made no toast crunching sound and disgusted, I discarded it next to the toaster and headed straight for some fried chicken.

I'm looking for the cream!

Korean stainless steel rice bowl - fits in your palm!

In the last three years I have eaten one pack of butter! Imagine my glee when I discovered a pack of Danish Lurpak butter in the cooler cabinet at my local E-Marte! It was expensive, 6000 Won (£3) but I was in need of a little comfort and reminiscing and after putting it in my basket bought a  loaf of bread. I’d been given a toaster by a friend in Ch’eonan and 18 months later, it still lay packed in a box in a corner of my veranda. Lurpak is almost white in colour and is unsalted but is deliciously creamy. The pack was consumed within 36 hours, a frightfully naughty luxury and I haven’t bought one since and the toaster, boxed up, has gone back to the veranda.

Cabbage and rice cake spicy stew - korean kids favoutire

Sat at the table with my students, who have just made spicy cabbage stew (떡볶이), I suddenly become aware of their noisy eating, a symphony of sucking, smacking, slurping, sighing,  clicking,  and chewing. When I first arrived in Korea, I didn’t particularly enjoy eating with Koreans because they tend to make the eating noises you hear in documentaries where some micro camera is inserted deep into a nest of ants or termites  and the sounds subsequently amplified. When eating with gusto, Koreans parade  the entire gamut  of possible eating noises some of which are so juicy and over excited, they are almost sexual. Ten years ago I hated those noises in the same way my friend hated the unavoidable sound of munching toast. Sitting there watching their happy faces as they sigh loudly, because they’ve eaten too much, or fanning their mouths because they’ve  deliberately made the stew too spicy, I realise I now find their noises both consoling and cute. I spent years scolding my nephew  because he tends to eat in a manner somewhere between a salamander and an insect. Maybe it’s time to cut him some slack!

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© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

New York, New York

Posted in Daegu, Entertainment by 노강호 on July 4, 2010

New York, New York, is a franchise restaurant  where the menu differs substantially between one restaurant and another.  Currently, New York, New York, Song-So, Daegu, is my favourite western style restaurant and it does an excellent pork steak topped with pineapple and blueberry sauce, and one half of a delicious, almost roast potato.  I think it’s probably pan-fried but it comes close to roast. Since getting pally with the owner I now get 1 whole roast potato. And, the Korean fried rice (벅금밥) compliments the pork chop and blue berry very well. Yes’ it’s still ‘pusion pood’ (fusion food) but only just. The meal is usually served with kimchi and pickles but as these appear on a side dish, if you push them to one side, you can almost imagine  you’re back home. If the ‘pusion’ element doesn’t bother you, you can try the Korean rice wine (막갈리) cocktail, 4000W (£2) and served with strawberry and pineapple.

Ground floor

From my experience, apart from a burger bar, New York, New York is the only restaurant I’ve eaten in which doesn’t provide chopsticks. Eating kimchi with a fork is weird, like something out of The Twilightzone. The ambiance is great, if not a little fake, with plastic geraniums but the extensive wine racks contain wine, the lighting is suitably subdued and as always the army of staff are attentive and generous. Considering the price, around 8000W (£4), for a very nice meal, a few plastic geraniums don’t bother  me and I console myself with the fact they are actually in  bloom. This  week a waiter asked if I had any requests for the sound system. Ah, the music!  Why is it that places with tasteful interiors go and ruin them by splurging shit music into the air. A rap version of, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, was slowly beginning to irritate me. The choice of music can be a little variable and  swing from rap crap to Mozart and Sinatra, in an instant. Overall, the atmosphere certainly suits Sinatra. Then, on the window ledges are real branches of wood, standing in large glass vases filled with chunks of cookie and cream-looking rock and topped with water. The plastic plants are the sort that are realistic enough to provoke both conversation and  are difficult to distinguish as fake , especially with real branches. Last week I noticed the branches had all sprouted leaves and yet still had plastic botanical Borg implants. Quite bizarre.

Bizarre Borg technology – plant plastic pushion

New York New York, Song-So is a few minutes walk from the Song-So Industrial Complex subway station. Go  past E-Marte, turn right at the end of E-Marte on the crossroad, and it’s on your left half way up the hill and equidistant between Migwang Sporlex , on the crest of the hill, and E-Marte, on the cross-road. (Wiki Map Link) THIS CLOSED DOWN IN JUNE 2011!

Conversely, for some spacious swank, try the New York, New York, (Wedding) at Susong-gu, Daegu.

Susong-gu – swanky

Entrance

A monk (수님)

Beautifully designed

Water feature

The restaurant is very large

Entrance fountain

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© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

The Song So ‘New York, New York’, closed in 2011

Wanted: A Plastic Professorship

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Comparative, Education, esl, Westerners by 노강호 on May 13, 2010

Have you noticed its predominantly university teachers who hand you business cards? Fingering  the little stash I’ve collected over the years, not one is from  a Haggwon teacher.  I’ve never owned business cards, but then as I’ve never sent a text message and only used an ATM machine once in the UK. I’m slightly odd.

I pine, you pine, he pine, she pine!

I wouldn’t mind handing  out a name card from a university, even a crap one but like most teachers, I would probably feel a little ashamed handing out something from an institution one notch up from a kindergarten or the kids’ party entertainer at Mac Donald’s. Even though haggwon and university pay are now fairly similar, in status there’s a world of difference between Coco the Clown’s English Academy and a University.

No matter how hard a haggwon tries to give itself credibility, names like ‘academy’ or ‘colleges’ don’t hide what most really are, factories (공장). ‘TOSS English‘ reads the bright neon strip over a college near where I live.  Despite the amusing name, it must  be successful as it has a fleet of mini buses and has been in situ for at least  8 years. However, back in the UK, ”Toss’ is slang for ‘shit’ or ‘masturbation.’ And then there’s ‘Kolon English Academy;’ Colon is the destination of the doctor’s digit when you have an extremely bad gut.  Then there are the logos, the cap and mortar board, the pillars of some classical order column. Sometimes they use letters of the Greek alphabet which in the UK would be unrecognized to all but the students of British grammar schools.

In Britain, any awareness of the roots of western civilization is relegated to 5 or 6 year-olds and hence denuded of its significance as the cradle of western civilization. The invasion of ‘ ‘Greece” by Darius in 490BC and Xerxes, 480BC, had they succeeded, would have radically altered the face of western history possibly resulting in an Islamic Europe. Mention Thermopylae to most British people and it is now associated predominantly with a comic or a partly animated, fantastical movie.  Many Korean kids can recite or narrate the Battle of Thermopylae or Marathon and some have even ‘explained to me how Socrates came to commit suicide.  As  a history teacher in the UK, I can put my hand on my heart and tell you I have never seen or heard any mention of Thermopylae , Marathon or Socrates in a British school.  For various reasons,  the most significant aspects of our history, often due to political imperatives, are demnatio memoriae.  Koreans students certainly have more awareness of classical history than do their western peers and so the column, pediments, alpha and omega,  and other little symbols of academia and learning are common but  ironically, the ‘colleges’ they represent are as genuine as the Phrontesterion in Aristophanes’ The Clouds; the silly little ‘Thinkery’ where students bend over, bum holes gazing intently at the heavens in the quest for knowledge.

Much as I love Korea, their method of teaching English needs a total overhaul and the dependence on memorizing phrases, a number of which are clumsy and strange, needs scraping.  Koreans have a similar attitude to teaching  English as they do cooking bean paste soup. I’ve told several friends I add a dash of black pepper powder to my dwaen-jang.  They were shocked and repeated ‘pepper’ several times as though I’d said I piss in it.  Then they told me that black pepper wasn’t part of ‘the recipe,’ as if there is only one recipe, only one way to do it. Korean education is very successful, but their standard of English, despite the haggwons and schools, is dire. Perhaps if they treated English education more like  ‘pushion pood (fusion food), squirting jam over pizzas, replacing mozarella with that stretchy, play cheese, or sweet potato and dipping bistro hotdogs in a concoction of syrup, mustard and red pepper paste, standards might improve. ”I’m  pine,’ ‘Have a nice day,’ ‘pleased to meet you,’ ‘ drive you to suicide. And then there’s the constant American twang but that can wait until a future post!

Currently, I’m waiting for my business cards to arrive and they will probably carry my school’s logo, a cartoony character but I’m not particularly bothered. I’ve worked in enough language factories and a high school,  to know that my boss has genuine intentions and besides, my loyalty is won because my conditions are probably superior to those of most university teachers whose pay is no longer way in advance of a haggwon teacher and whose holidays, at one time a guaranteed four months have been whittled down and interpolated with various obligations. My boss and her family have been close friends of mine for over ten years and have even vacationed with me in England. Though I would  love  to become a professor, albeit a plastic one, working in a university, for me at least, would be a step down.

A teacher from the Coco the Clown Phrontesterion of English. (I'm Pine and You)

Of course, most university teachers, instructors, give you a name card not because they teach in a university, but to impress on you the fact they are ‘professors.’ Professors are the officer class of Korean teachers with haggwon teachers relegated to ‘rank and file.’ Yes, I would probably do exactly the same but it is non the less amusing in its snobbery.  Name cards of the highest status carry ‘professor’ in both Korean (교수)  and hanja (敎授) in order to separate them from ones simply in English. I’d probably have mine embossed in gold. In reality however, it’s the knowledge and skills of a ‘professor’ I would like and not merely a hollow title. By English standards, I’m not too clear how it works in the USA, a ‘professorship’ is a position, ‘a chair,’ awarded to top academics and not a title conferred merely by teaching in a university.  Despite the demise of standards in the UK and the ascendancy of ape values, you still read or hear of academics being ‘invited’ to a professorship.

What, by gad! No dickie?

Last year I spent several days adjudicating a speaking competition with three professors all of whom gave me name cards. Two wore  little silk dickie bow ties and the other a complete set of plus fours and matching walking cane.  When I first saw him, from a distance,  I thought it was Sherlock Holmes until  I heard his American accent. He didn’t have a pipe but his plus fours were real and actually made of tweed. Ironically, I’d met this chap before, some 6 years previously when we worked together in an academy ‘factory.’ Before the plus fours and business card, and of course, ‘professorship,’ he used to turn up for work looking like a backpacker, his hair never combed and his clothes disheveled and scruffy. One day, I recall my old boss consulting me as to whether it was acceptable to offer to buy him some new clothes. If I’d known at the time what I now know I’d have simply suggested conferring a professorship upon him and buying him some appropriate name cards. The rest would have taken care of itself.

Even when I’ve known teachers who for one reason or another moved from university to hagwon, from the status of ‘plastic professor’ to that of a boring ‘teacher,’  they’ve initially introduced themselves, or been introduced to me as, ‘professor.’ Further, not only have they continued wearing the dicky bow, but they’ve insisted students call them by title.

I’m a snob, academia, the classics, the entire gamut from music, art literature to history, Oxford, Cambridge, public schools, grammar schools, dickie bows, waist coats and plus fours, professors, even plastic professors, I adore them all. When I was a boy, this was what constituted education and refinement and through out my twenties I aspired to it. Sadly, by the time I got to university, in my early thirties, the gown, mortar board and anything ‘classical,’ if not already on a heap in the college quad, were on their way! And now, well, every Tom, Dick and Harry have a degree – usually in hair dressing or business studies. As much as I mock plastic professors, tongue in cheek, a least the title sets you apart from the herd. Sadly, of all my university friends, some of whom are university lecturers, professors, some even renowned in academic circles, few embraced ‘the classical’ with any passion in little other than their individual subjects. I don’t want to leave my current occupation, that would be foolish, but secretly, I would love one of those business cards and the snobbery of calling myself a ‘professor.’ Is it possible to teach a lesson or two a week in a university, even a poxy one, and ‘earn’ the title ‘professor,’ or even ‘associate professor?’ If so, pathetic as it is, I want the job!”