Elwood 5566

A Sunday Stroll in the Rose Park

Posted in Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on May 29, 2012

Rose Parks are a regular feature in Korean cities and Daegu has several one of which is close to my one-room. From mid-spring right through until the brink of winter, the park is a mass of incredible colours and heady with the scent of roses and fresh wood-chippings.

with Warayoung Mountain as a backdrop

the strange thing held by the boy is a donut on a stick

looking towards the city

‘한빛마을’ is the apartment ‘village’ where my Kumdo school is located

wood-chip and roses

 

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Magnolia – 2012

Posted in Nature, Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on May 6, 2012

One of the first indicators that spring has arrived. I actually took these photos on April 11th but a bad flu delayed my posting them. The magnolia (목련) is one of my favourites and these examples were nestled against a traditional Korean house.

First signs of spring from the magnolia

a brief beauty – 24 hours later and the petals had fallen

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Spring Blossom in Kyeong-ju

Posted in Nature, Photo diary, seasons by 노강호 on April 22, 2012

 

Kyeong-ju

 

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : D...

purple crocuses with closed bloom Français : Des crocus violets, avec leurs fleurs fermées. Italiano: Infiorescenze chiuse di piante del genere Crocus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

‘Spring Festival’ in Cheonan, 2009

 

One of the most spectacular places for blossom is the old city of Kyeong-ju and nowhere is it more majestic than on the edges of the lake.

 

on the edge of the lake

 

the lake is home to several large hotels

 

through the blossom

 

towards Kyeong-ju city

 

close-up

 

they had the same design pleasure boats 12 years ago

 

the fountain

 

Jun-hee and Sun-hee

 

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A Feast of Spring

Posted in Photo diary, plants and trees by 노강호 on April 19, 2011

the impressive magnolia (목련)

spring in Daegu

against the sky

forsythia gone crazy (개나리)

cherry blossom

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Monday Market – A Mixed Bag of Seasonal Interests

Posted in Monday Market (Theme) by 노강호 on April 7, 2011

For the last month I’ve been waiting for the appearance of mistletoe and durup in the street markets. Durup (두룹), aralia elatia can sometimes be found in places like E-Mart but it is usually on the expensive side if out of season. Mistletoe (겨우사리), viscum album coloratum, is something I’ve never seen in supermarkets, not even in tea bag form and many Koreans don’t even know what it is.

fresh mistletoe – 10.000 won (five pounds UK) which I’m told is a little expensive.

I’ve had a bag of mistletoe (dried branches and leaves) in my fridge for the last year and used it regularly during the summer when made as a tea, and chilled, it is wonderfully refreshing. Last year’s bag I purchased in May and it was already dried. Yesterday however, I saw the first bags of mistletoe and they were fresh so this morning I boiled the last of my old batch and will try the new ones in a few days. After which I will simply lay them on newspaper on my veranda and dry them out for the forth coming year.

Warning – there are many varieties of mistletoe and I’ve read the berries, possibly in European varieties if not further afield, are poisonous.  Apparently, ewes abort their young if they graze on fallen mistletoe! If you are a reader outside Korea I would be very cautious about making tea out of the next batch you see.

durup (두룹) aralia elatia

Durup, for which I can find no common English name, costs between 3000-5000W (£1.50 – £2.50) a bowl and is surprisingly tasty with a mildly nutty taste. I generally blanch them and eat them with red pepper sauce (초고추장), which can be bought ready made like tomato sauce, or with swirled in sesame oil, minced garlic and sesame seeds with a little soy sauce. I use them as a side dish. They can also be used in kimbap and pancakes but I have not tried such variations. I would imagine there are numerous other ways of using them.

a street vendor selling durup

Durup and Misteltoe will appear in street markets until about mid May after which they are difficult to find though I would imagine large markets will have dried mistletoe all year. Both are worth trying.

Don’t forget that mugwort (쑥 – sook), artemesia asiatica and mong-gae (멍개), ‘sea squirt,’ are also currently prolific.

mong-gae, or sea squirt (멍개), a delight of the deep?

For my previous posts on posts on these seasonal items, click:

durup

mistletoe

sea-squirt

mugwort

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FURTHER REFERENCES

Mistletoe Magic (Telegraph Newspaper. UK.  Dec. 2010)

My World

Posted in Photo diary by 노강호 on March 27, 2011

Spring was in the air last weekend and in one of the small apartment ‘parks’ near my one room, people were sat in a large group chatting and eating snacks. Nearby, an little old lady was sat where she is everyday, with an assortment of vegetables. Two high school boys are about to pass her – you can just see the light gray colour of their trousers. On the side of the road you can see a stall selling oranges. On a Sunday this area is home to a number of market stalls one of which is under the dark blue tarpaulin near one of the school boys.

Spring is in the air

Within the photo below are three one rooms I have lived in during 2000-2001, 2003-2004 and 2008-2011. All of them are roughly along the center axis of the 3-4 story buildings. My current one room has a green roof and is just beyond (diagonally to the left), the bright yellow, 3 story stairwell. A small tower perched on top of a roof sits between the yellow stairwell and my building further in the distance. An area of 3-4 story buildings contains some small businesses and many one and two room type accommodations.

I live just to the left and diagonally of the small tower – a green topped, flat roof.

In the photo below, on the left and running into the distance, is a small street which on a Monday is occupied by a market. This street will contain large stalls with canopies while the small street behind it (to the right), is packed with little old ladies who at the most have a large umbrella. This is my favourite place to buy vegetables. Stalls will also throng the main road at the front of the photo. Slightly beyond the BYC sign, on the left, is my school with E-mart a little further. BYC is a strange shop selling underwear, pajamas and other clothes. It is a large shop with a lot of space and for years it has looked like it is going out of business. However, it is one of the only surviving business that was here back in 2000.

Ginkgo trees line the main road in the foreground shading it in the summer

Contained within 90% of the photo is most of my weekly life. There is large multi complex cinema, countless restaurants including sashimi and sushi restaurants, pizzerias and a seafood buffet. There are probably 10 coffee shops, a supermarket, 2 ophthalmic surgeons, a nerologist, a urologists, a womens clinic, around 5 opticians, 3 tailors, 2 launderettes and countless other businesses.

my entire world – apart from my favourite bathhouse

The photos were taken from one of my friends apartments and I have taken photos on numerous occasions from this location. At night the view is particularly colourful.

The view in summer and at night (2010)

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Monday Market – Shepherd's Purse (냉이)

Posted in herbs and 'woods', Quintesentially Korean by 노강호 on March 8, 2011

a tasty weed

I now realise I have an intimate relationship with this weed developed through years of mowing lawns. Shepherd’s Purse, which has tiny white flowers, is considered a lawn pest in the UK and numerous British gardening websites devote space to facilitating its annihilation.

the plant usually stands higher than surrounding grass and is easily identified

Such a shame! All I needed to do to clear my lawn of this ‘pest’ was to pull it up and consume it. I have never tired it in British cooking but I’m sure with creativity it could have uses. In Britain, there is a long history of Shepherd’s Purse as an herbal remedy and in China it is used in both soup and as a wonton filling.

Korean 'naeng-i' (냉이)

I wrote a brief post on Shepherd’s Purse (냉이) last year and made it clear I wasn’t sure how much I liked it. However, I actually bought several bundles and froze them and there was ample to last the entire year. Like many seasonal oddities, especially ones used by grandmothers, as is naeng-i, it’s a case of ‘here today – gone tomorrow.’  Only a few weeks after noticing it, it will have disappeared until next year. Naeng-i really livens-up a bowl of bean curd soup (됀장찌게) and I was quite excited to buy it fresh yesterday. I can’t  be bothered trimming off the roots and have one of those mesh balls in which I put whole plants and simply immerse the ball in the soup. Quite a few of my students love naeng-i and apart from telling you how their grandmothers use it, are often excited recounting its flavour.

 

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High on Mugwort (쑥) Artemisia Asiatica

Posted in herbs and 'woods', oriental Medicine by 노강호 on May 16, 2010

After using mugwort in various soups, I decided to use it for the purpose of eliciting deep and prophetic dreams, which in the little research I did on this herb, is one of its claimed properties. You can find an interesting link for ‘dream pillows’ in my original article (mugwort). I bought two large bags of fresh mugwort, each the size of a carrier bag which I subsequently dried on my apartment floor after spreading them fairly thinly on newspaper. The drying process took about 5 days, each day, turning the ‘leaves’ to minimise the chance of decomposition. They entire two loads dried quickly with no decomposition at all. What started out as a large amount of mugwort quickly shriveled to around a quarter of the original proportion.

This was originally one entire carrier bag load of mugwort. it significantly reduces when dried.

I bought a small pillow, cost 4000W (£2) and taking out the inner pouch opened it and removed the filling. This I then replaced with the dried mugwort.

bagging the mugwort

In then replaced the inner pouch, now stuffed with dried mugwort, back into the original pillow. This in then inserted inside the larger pillow on my bed.

The 'dream pillow' - ready to go!

Now, strangely, as the mugwort was drying in my room, and it was quite a smell, like decomposing grass cuttings. I awoke one morning and instantly recalled a vivid dream about a boy who had left our school  a few months earlier. Why I dreamt about him, I don’t know but I subsequently forgot the dream and started my day. However, in the evening, as I was about to leave school, my boss told me that this boy is due to return to our school later in the week. Suddenly, I remembered my dream. Yes, strange!

I subsequently slept using the ‘dream pillow’ for around a week before removing it. I have a theory that the smell of mugwort, which is reminiscent of lying on a pile of grass cuttings, actually interferes with your deep sleep, causing you to hover over the kind of sleep during which dreams are more easily recalled. So, I don’t want to dismiss mugwort as a dream enhancers as total ‘crystal crap,’ because of the one odd, and vivid dream I did have. So,  next I want to try sleeping with the bag after the smell no longer wakes me up.

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Monday Market. Aralia Elata – 두룹

Posted in Quintesentially Korean, seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on May 10, 2010

Shoots of the mountain green, Aralia Elatia. Durup (두룹)

It took me a bit of work to track down the details of  this tasty mountain green which is currently in season. Durup (두룹 나무) is a deciduous tree which is rather attractive but for commercial purposes cultivation is ‘under-glass’ using small branches. The stems are thorny and the fresh young shoots, the edible part, appear in street markets and supermarkets between March and May. If you buy them from the old ladies on the street they cost about 10.000Won for a large bag of probably in the region of a hundred shoots. I noticed that in E-Marte about 6 shoots cost around 2000Won.

Aralia Elata the tree. (두룹 나무)

There are a number of ways to use durup but it is especially tasty, washed and dropped into boiling water and cooked in the same way you  would broccoli. A short vigorous boil means the stems are slightly crunchy. I made a dip of a little mayonnaise, red pepper paste (고추장), and corn syrup (물엿). However, they are also used in soups, in pancakes and battered and deep fried.

A durup shoot (두룹)

Durup and dip

Durup and pancake

I don’t want to overrate this too much, I mean, how delicious is broccoli or cabbage unless swimming in butter? But honestly, this was as equally ‘tasty’ as broccoli with a somewhat nutty, asparagus-like taste. With a small bowl of dip I ate a large bowl for breakfast and then went back to the kitchen to eat what was left. Definitely worth trying! (more durup info here)

Faherenheit 84 (29 °C)

Posted in Animals, bathhouse Ballads by 노강호 on May 7, 2010

In the last few days, whenever I leave my relatively cool ‘one room,’  and step into the stairway, I can both feel the rising humidity and smell it. The smell, difficult to describe, is not unpleasant  and if you can ‘smell ‘humidity, that is how I would characterise it. Then, when you step outside you instantly get zapped by both the sun and  its heat reflected off of the pavement. With a little breeze in the air, and cool mornings and evenings, it’s not unpleasant but soon, venturing outside will become a torturous experience reminiscent of being stuck in a sauna-like microwave in which life is reduced to  seeking sanctuary wherever there is air conditioning. As the middle English song goes; ‘Sumer is icumen in, Lhude sing cuccu! Rivulets of sweat trickling down your back and amassing in little crescents under your man-boobs, if you’re unfortunate to have them, as I do, all necessitate keeping a towel in your bag and one of those bright coloured handkerchiefs in your pocket. As a winter baby, I’ve always hated summers but maybe my dislike of Korean summer is shaded by life in a one room before an air-conditioner was a normal part of an employment contract. Sitting around a small fan, clad only in underpants, as it gyrated from you to your flat-mate, granting you intermittent  coolness, or spending the evening  freezing in  MacDonald’s, were the only reprieve from summer’s muggy heat.

A memi (매미), cicada

Spring, which this year seems to have been skipped, as beautiful as it is, is an unpleasant reminder of what is to follow. And then there are the memi (매미). I have never heard cicadas in Northern Europe and associate them with hotter climates and in Korea, as summer’s leitmotiv, whose chirping, an incessant white noise,  will dominant. Memi are bizarre looking things especially if you come from a climate with much smaller insects. I remember, before I’d seen one, you would pass a tree in mid-day and a chorus of memi would be ‘screaming’ at you. I could never see them and if you stopped and walked back to investigate, the ‘screaming’  would diminish, as if they were watching your approach. The sound is so intense, a crazy-crispy buzzing that it would suggest one tree is host to many memi. How many make that intensity of sound? A handful? Thousands? I am no memi expert but I think when the temperature falls a little, in the evenings of early summer, emerging  memi migrate from the ground, either by flight, climbing the trunks, or a combination of both, to find a perch in branches. This is the time when, if you look carefully, you can sometimes see them on tree trunks.  At other times, I have seen them in-flight  as their  bright colours, hidden when resting, flash vividly, probably to warn off predators.   If you’ve never seen one, they certainly look ugly, fascinating and definitely prehistoric.

Not on my pillow!

I don’t know if I like memi or not, that screaming symphony is at its peak at the hottest time of day, usually as I am on my way to work,  scuttling between one air-conditioned sanctuary and another. I don’t know if I like them because they are a harbinger of summer’s heat. My bollocks positively dislike like them! When you hear the first memi you can assume the temperature is approaching 29 degrees and at the same time you will probably notice sweat trickling down your back .  Once their chirping is symphonic, amassed and intense you can assume the temperature is in the 30’s and if you’re male, your balls, dangling in what has now become an E-Mart carrier bag,  are probably stuck to you leg.

Here are some facts to remember when you hear your first memi this summer:

Desert cicadas are the only  insects known to sweat  in order to lower body temperature!

While Koreans often translate ‘cicadas,’  and many Americans term them, ‘locust,’  they are not! Cicadas belong to an entirely different family of insect.

One species of cicada is native to the UK. (Melampsalta montana)

Cicadas lay eggs in tree bark from which hatched nymphs fall to the ground where they live, burrowing, throughout this stage.  Many cicada  species emerge from the ground annually, but some, with much greater life spans, emerge at 13 or 17 year periods.(eg: magicicada).

Should a memi park on you’re pillow and sing in your ear-hole, with a capacity of 120dB, you can expect permanent damage to your sense of hearing.

However, here is the most important fact: Fahrenheit 84, (29 °C), the approximate temperature from which both the memi will begin to sing and a pair of bollocks will start to stick to an inner thigh!

If your bollocks were stuck to your leg when you heard the memi screaming, I’d like to know! It’s a sort of survey!

(Link: for  more comprehensive memi facts and the source of most information here)