whole*istic

Trying to live a holistic life in an unholistic world

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THIRTYbyTHIRTY

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So, I feel a sense of impending doom.

Signs that imminent danger is looming just over the horizon.

1983 was the year KISS first appeared publicly without their makeup (however nobody recognised them hahaha), Red Hot Chili Peppers released their first album.
McDonalds introduced the magnificent, magical, mystery meat filled McNugget (I last had them, or any McDonalds product for that matter, just into the New Year of 2011 in Prague, Czech Republic. Happily and fantastically inebriated, in the company of my wonderful sister and brother-in-law, the memory of traipising around one of the most beautiful cities in the world, (so beautiful Hitler declared it was to remain untouched) and the story of forlorness concerning the McNuggets remains such a cherished memory, I wouldn’t trade the shitty food choice for any amount of clean eating kale chips – and when drunk who says “Man, I could destroy a tray of dehydrated kale chips and crudites!” NOBODY. Ain’t nobody got time for that!)
Ocean Spray introduced the first tetra pak juice box to supermarkets US-wide.
Kids were fascinated over Rubik’s Cubes, Hacky Sacks, Cabbage Patch Kids and boom box’s were cool beans dude.
Cinemas were choka-block full with Flashdancers and returning Jedi’s.

And thirty years ago in a small, sleepy fishing town, home to the nation’s prized dog, this honeymoon baby was popped out and somewhat welcomed into the world.

“Welcomed/wanted?

Had/hidden.

Copulated/Child,

Result: Repressed/Relinquished.

Irrelevant for this post.

Relevant to me, most.”

So, the point to this post. In a few months I’m turning 30. Joining my best friends in the dirty thirties.

30 is the new 20.

30 is when you become a woman.

30 is when you have the best sex of your life.

30 is when you know yourself.

30 is 30 is 30 is 30 is the end is the end is the end is the start.

It’s a number. But it’s so much more than that.

It’s a pressure we place on ourselves to have achieved this, saved that, bought that, reared and raised this, seen that, travelled there.

I’m just stoked I got through the years of fear and loathing in my early 20’s (who am I kidding, ALL my 20’s) and the return of the almighty Saturn in recent years.

Thirty, oh dear old dirty Thirty, when I meet you head on in a couple of months time I’m gonna have me a wee little party with the friends (and in spirit, my beloved family and friends down under) I hold dear, filled with fine food, single malt whiskey and beer.

So here’s my list, of thirty things to achieve by thirty. Some superficial, some trivial. Some sentimental, some endearing. Some challenging, some silly.

Kind of like the person I’ve grown to be.

THIRTYbyTHIRTY

  1. Start a traditional Korean cooking course at Plaisir Gourmand
  2. Start Korean language class (and this time finish it!)
  3. Take my Ko-mum for a meal – by ourselves.
  4. On my ONE.DAY.OFF go to Seoul Station and take a train to the place where it will arrive closest to 13:13.
  5. Make fresh squid ink pasta.
  6. Wear shorts.
  7. Babysit K&D’s baby for the day/night while they get to live out their long forgotten boozy days.
  8. Host a dinner party.
  9. Grow a plant from a seed.
  10. Make a video of my time in Korea for my grandparents.
  11. Find and visit my foster family.
  12. Volunteer at the Eastern Welfare Orphanage.
  13. Send my sister a snail mail.
  14. Read a poem at an open mic night.
  15. Foster an animal. Do not adopt this animal, repeat – do not adopt this animal!!
  16. Visit the eel restaurant in Paju.
  17. Live out my powerlifting dreams and adhere to the regime I’ve got a weird interest in.
  18. Enrol in the Institute of Intergative Nutrition Course
  19. Buy cookbook and make a recipe a week.
  20. Visit Jeollanam-do to walk over Wolchulsan suspension bridge in attempt to overcome my fear of bridges. (I think bridges are beautiful, I’m fascinated by them, yet despite my faith in maths and physics and many friends that are civil engineers….I always fear for my life when going over a bridge….)
  21. Host a cooking demonstration class (if this does not eventuate via my job – then upload a cooking video to YouTube)
  22. Run 5kms.
  23. Buy a skateboard.
  24. Create my cooking CV.
  25. Cut my hair at least half its length.
  26. Visit a buddhist monastery.
  27. Buy my nephew a drum (In my attempt to make him as amazing as Neil Pert. Rush. This is complemented by number 28)
  28. Make my sister grow my nephew’s hair long. 80’s hair rock long.
  29. Go to a driving range.
  30. Overcome my fear and loathing of my own body and visit a jimjibang. Actually, spend a night at the jimjibang eating ramen (have never eaten ramen) and watching Korean dramas whilst actually just sitting playing on my smart phone.

I think 25 might happen this weekend.
If anybody wants an invite to number 5, 8 or help me eat the efforts at 19, wants to come on along for numbers 16, 20 and 29 or help me (ie: drag me along) for number 22 – here’s your invitation!

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Vinyasa. Meditation. Repeat.

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So, I’ve been sticking to this Kitchari cleanse for 3 full days now (I realise how ridiculously short that sounds, but I’m pretty in tune with my body) and to be completely honest, I don’t feel that great.

ImageMy Kitchari

I generally don’t eat rice (shock! horror! How can a Korean girl not eat rice?) or any other starchy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, flour based foods or even high protein carbs like beans or even superdeluxe quinoa due to feeling pretty sloth-like, bloated and unsatiated. So, to switch suddenly to a diet that is based on a foundation of beans and rice, I have to tell ‘ya, I did have my reservations, (hence the weeks of research) yet the positive, holier than thou, second coming, pillars of enlightenment results people spoke of lured me in.

And I guess this is why nutrition is such a personal thing. I’m not saying that Kitchari is not a healthy, nourishing food. Indeed it is, it has to be. A meal consisting of basmati rice, mung beans, vegetables and spices, on paper, seems to be a perfect, harmonious blend of proteins, carbohydrates, fat (from coconut oil or ghee) and minerals. It is also deliciously tasty and aromatic and by changing the variety of vegetables or even bean, it is never boring.

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My 2nd Kitchari – see I gave it a chance.

It wasn’t eating it that has been the issue, I do enjoy foods like this, an Indian style risotto if you will (cooking methods are quite similar, however, flavours couldn’t be at more polar opposites) It’s just the lethargic, heavy feeling I’ve had since I started eating it on Saturday, adhering to it fully on Sunday.

Through my interest in nutrition and fitness and twenty years spent dancing and obsessing over every muscle group and fat cell, I’ve learnt what works for my body, in terms of physique, digestion and feeling clear, focused and energised in my mind and spirit.

It’s nothing that I’ve learnt in one book. It’s not following one particular lifestyle or nutritional plan. Geez, it’s not even from one specific country!

I’m not going to lie; that would be more unwhole*istic than purporting to be this ethereal raw food, vegan that, well, basically I am not.

I  seem to crave a lot of protein; animal protein in fact.  Eggs, oedeng**, seafood, pork (I’m essentially Korean – it’s not my fault), lamb. (I grew up in Australia where BBQ was dinner 3 times of the week, salad optional)
** I know oedeng is like the hideous 2nd cousin of the hotdog, a mish mash of fish whatever’s, starch and MSG and probably a fair few artificial somethings and what-nots, but again, it’s in my blood. I love ’em….. O.O

I love fruits and vegetables.

I don’t eat meat/animal products every day, or even every second day. But, I do eat them. And, I do crave and enjoy them. Just as I crave vegan or raw food aswell.

I’ve seen all the documentaries, I support the cause, I feel the exact same rage and emotions you do at the intolerable cruelty to animals on every brutal level from factory farming, fish farms, ocean depleting net fishing and inhumane slaughtering to the heinous and unnecessary fur farms, animal testing that yields no worthy results. I won’t visit the circus, zoo’s or aquariums because I believe those environments are distressing, cruel and make a mockery of the animals, depriving them of their most basic rights.

In an ideal world, well in my ideal of an ideal world, I don’t necessarily think that humans would be herbivores. I just think our modern world, our need for instant gratification, greed and gluttony, changed the ways of farming and agriculture so inherently, that we no longer even recognise or identify what is on our plates from where it was sourced/created.

In Australia it is easier for me to make more ethical choices regarding the food I eat as there is a greater awareness of organic, ethical farming; for both produce and animals. In Korea, whilst I can recognise organic produce, I very rarely will buy meat/seafood as I have absolutely no idea where it’s coming from, it’s a stab in the dark (horrible unethical pun) to guess what part of the animal it is aswell. And when the pork/fish/seafood is that cheap, I always wonder what on earth happened for that meat to become that cheap, I don’t even want to know.

They say, ignorance is bliss. But I believe, knowledge is power. The power to make well informed decisions, to stand by your beliefs or at least have the understanding of why you feel strongly about certain issues.

Which is why I fight a battle, feel pangs of guilt (that obviously do not outweigh my pangs of hunger) whenever I make a choice to eat meat, yet something rationalises it in my head. Snippets of ignorance, shunning thoughts of the torture, isolation, despair and downright, miserable, cruddy life the animal spent alive (not living, just barely alive) and endured to end up on my fork. I hesitate for a moment, also thinking of the hormones, disease and adrenaine I am ingesting, but these are dismissed as I flick back into the current moment, the senses evoked with smells, sounds of enjoyment from my dining partners, the sight of dishes that bring me great culinary delight and moral disdain, such as sashimi, eggs florentine, a steaming tagine of sweet morrocan lamb topped with a thick, plain yogurt, a freshly grilled seafood platter of prawns, scallops and snapper stuffed with lemon, garlic, chilli, coriander and italian parsley or the wonders of Vietnamese cuisine with their fresh produce and salty, spicy, sweet and sour flavours offset by meagre, yet adequate portions of meat and seafood.

And it’s these dishes, these are my weakness that make me question my ethics and viewpoints, However, these dishes are also unique to various cultures and so deeply ingrained in tradition and history, around long before the advent of factory farming or the gross misuse of animals and greed for their flesh began. They are traditionally celebratory dishes, to be consumed at momentous moments in life, where the life and death of the animal was revered and appreciated. Not bought at a generic corner franchised establishment as some quick and easy meal of convenience.

Anyway….. the Vinyasa has been amazing, grounding and a welcome change from what I would usually do, a perfect way to start and finish the day. I have been using some videos off youtube which allow me to practice from home, although I am not sure my technique is on point…..

I like this one for morning and this one in the evening.

As well as the Vinyasa, the meditation I’ve been practicing is from an app called Relax and Rest available on both android and all i-apps-things-whatever you call that family of ipods, iphones, ipads, macbooks you-know-what-i-mean! No matter what time of day, state of mood (from stressed, anxious, tired but can’t settle to dealing with a snoring boyfriend who smells like a beer) it always sends me off on a dreamy path of sleep, when nothing but alcohol or sedatives worked in the past.

And anyway, so that’s my long-winded review of Kitchari, with a side order of ethics, rants and opinions. It tastes great, amazing in fact, but makes me feel like, well….this…..

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Have you any experiences with Kitchari? Do certain grains, rice legumes or flours make you feel like this? (I don’t think I have a gluten intolerance though) Do you wage your own moral war with yourself with regards to the eating of animals? Do you find it difficult to practice veganism? Do you think it is hypocritical of me to have a blog or specialise in vegan food when I myself don’t eat 100% vegan?

A picture says a thousand words

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Which is fan’bloody’tastic because I’ve started and restarted, edited and re-edited, faffed about and waffled on, yet not even come close to finishing one of several million drafts of this post.

How to explain the absence in posts? How to share the reality of trying to live a holistic life in an unholistic world without sounding egotistical or boring you to tears? How to acquire the attribute I admire most in the blogs I like to read; that sense of personableness without sharing too many intimate details, so if you were to meet me outside of the virtual world, there wouldn’t be that this-is-weird-I-know-your-whole-life-story-but-we’ve-never-met type situation (which I recently encountered, but even worse, I just voyeured the whole situation so it seemed this blogger was on a life size screen – I will await their blog post on the place we co-inhabited – unleashing the internet stalker freak we all have happening inside right?)

So whilst I’ve been collecting my thoughts and working stuff out via creating psychological and chemical experiments on myself, also through an amazingly understanding and supportive sister and boyfriend and a job I actually love, I’ve sussed myself and this exhilirating ride we call, life, out. Well at least for another 6 months or so anyway.

And the results? The results, whilst not formulated through any conventional, scientific, traditional forms of medicine with stats or pie graphs, yet instead uncovered through inspiring (read – cheesy) quotes (yessss….often maybe with pictures of mountains or waterfalls cascading down into flowing streams and rockpools with unicorns and rainbow brite dolls), a rethink of things I’ve been blase about regarding my own diet via more education on nutrition through reading, watching documentaries and restricting different foods to see what results it has on my own personal wellbeing. I’ve also become more dedicated to practicing and understanding meditation, not just successfuly being able to put my insomniac self to sleep within 20 minutes, but also learning 1 or 2 minute meditations that have also helped me in my waking life (ie, resisting the urge to retaliate to the dotty old dear old ajumma who’s just pushed me aside whilst running for a free bus seat that doesn’t even exist on an over crowded bus) I have also been reading up on the principles and philosophy of yoga in order to gain a deeper knowledge of how this ancient meditative physical activity draws upon and enhances mental clarity and focus.

So, I guess, through the thick and the thin of it, I’ve been busy.

But, now the night, well it’s day now, is raging on (from my macbook – woooo!) and I’m still yet to come up with the desired post, an excuse for the lack of post, or pictures to excuse all previous shortcomings.

But I’ve got 440 words on the page, 444 now. And I’ll post some pictures of what I’ve been up to lately – to satisfy your inner voyeur 😉

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Written by ayearinpatissiere

June 6, 2013 at 20:38

Define what destroys you. Destroy what defines you.

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This was a tag written on a brick wall outside my apartment in Teneriffe in 2004.

The photo is long lost, but the quote is forever etched in my mind.

ImagePhoto taken in Hanoi, Vietnam. Forget exact location but in the backstreets behind the Literature museum.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 28, 2012 at 01:50

Time Travel: Vietnam

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Prior to moving to South Korea, I travelled solo around South East Asia.

I only had a one way ticket to Hanoi, no real itinerary, no real time frame, no real budget, no nothing except a wad of hard earned cash (via a soul destroying job) and unlimited time.

All I knew was I needed to travel, I needed to get away from everything that defined me.

I needed to lose myself in order to find myself.

I met some amazing people, many of whom I’m still in contact with.

It turns out that when you’re travelling on a familiar backpacking route, most people are asking the same questions as you are. We’re all on this big trip, thinking we’re taking a unique leap of faith, but really, we’re all searching for the same answers.

We’re all reading the same books, Shantaram, Life of Pi and at the time Eat, Pray, Love was viral. It was therefore assumed I was a broken woman flying solo on a quest for enlightenment, satisfaction and love inspired by Julia Roberts on a Carrie Bradshaw mission. Not 100% inaccurate, but still a long way from the truth.

So, I travelled from North to South Vietnam. Up and down the coast, weaving in and out, east to west.

I explored Vietnam mainly by myself. I was emotionally hungover from a particularly shite past few years and needed to clear the crap from my mind.

I hiked through the mountains of northern Sapa for 5 days to the border of China with only a guide and local tribeswomen. I had the honour of being welcomed into a local village party where they were celebrating the acceptance of their first-born into a Hanoi University. A humbling experience where I got to witness how proud her family were with a celebration of  festive food, in this case many dishes made from the prized mountain dog, and homemade cobra rice wine.

When in Nam, right!

Trekking through Sapa with my guide and H’Mong tribeswoman 

Festive celebration – the whole village was invited.


Far north Vietnam / Chinese border homestay
Preparing dinner with everything, vegetables and pork, sourced from his own farm.

I rode a motorbike for a few days through the central highlands of Dalat, visiting Phan Rang where my dearly missed dad was stationed. I wanted to see the Vietnam he saw.

Phan Rang: Dad on the right. Circa 1969-70

Phan Rang: 2011
Not too much had really changed


Street Vendor Phan Rang: Bánh xèo
Coconut milk flavoured crepe stuffed with prawns and beansprouts


Soups in the Dalat Centre Square

I saw the usual sights, Halong Bay, DMZ, the red sand dunes at Mui Ne, the beautiful French inspired Hoi An and got stuck for days at the beachy Nha Trang, swimming, drinking, cycling and lazing my cares away.


Life’s a beach – at Nha Trang

Street Vendor Nha Trang: Banh Can
A southern speciality which is a small rice pancake made with quail eggs cooked on a charcoal plate

Banh Canh Nha Trang: Fish noodle soup
I taught the girl in blue English for one week. At the end of the week she wanted to take me to lunch and meet her family.



Street Vender Hoi An.

Not exactly sure what it’s called but it was a standout. BBQ pork skewers served with mint and coriander, greens and dry rice paper.
Outta this world amazing.

But, it was essentially the food that kept me travelling and exploring. As you move north to south, the food changes dramatically and local delicacies found in Hanoi are not to be seen in Hue. (pronounced Hway)

Due to the apparent cooler climate in northern Vietnam, (definitely not when I was there in July-August) the production of spices is limited and therefore the cuisine is more mild, relying on black pepper instead of chillies for seasoning.

The soups and dishes of central Vietnam are noticeably more fiery due to the abundance of spices being produced in the mountainous region. As Hue was the capital of the last dynasty in Vietnam, the food is intricate and elaborate. (refer below to the many plates and separate banana leaf envelopes of Banh Beo and Lok)

Southern Vietnam also has a milder, sweeter flavour than the centre due to the tropical fruits and different vegetables such as garlic and shallots available which are indicative of the warmer temperatures. The region also uses more coconut milk in their dishes due to neighboring Cambodia.

Street Vendor Hanoi: Bun thit nuong
Round the corner from Hanoi Rendezvous Backpacker hostel.
Unbelievably fresh and good.


Street Vendor Hanoi: Bún chả

BBQ Meatballs served with cold noodles, fish/chilli sauce and salad.
OMG – Friggen amazing.

Start questioning why there are fine cheeses, breads and desserts in Vietnam and you learn about the history of the French Occupation in the 19th century. The French chefs taught many Vietnamese their methods of food preparation and techniques which were then adopted and fused together with traditional Vietnamese flavours and ingredients.  The French influence on Vietnamese food is now so deeply ingrained that some people are unaware of its presence.

Perfect examples of this fusion is the French technique of making stock to produce a broth for soup. When paired with Vietnamese flavours such as star anise, soy and fish sauce alongside garnishes of peppery Vietnamese mint, coriander, basil and chili it produces the rich and flavoursome dish of the country, Pho.

Street Vendor Hanoi: The quintessential dish – Vietnam in a bowl.
Beef Pho.

Street Vendor Hanoi: Pho


Street Vendor Hanoi: Banh Cuon

Another perfect French/ Vietnamese combination. Rice flour crepe with meat and mushrooms inside. Typically served for breakfast with fried egg atop. An absolute must.

Another fine example is the Vietnamese bread roll, Banh Mi. Having mastered the art of a perfect baguette in not only shape, colouring and taste, but most importantly, texture. The firm and crunchy outer shell protects the soft, yet slightly chewy inside which when spread with French-style pate, luncheon meats and cheese – usually Laughing Cow, and combined with chili paste, “Sambal”, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs, notably coriander, Banh Mi is the perfect marriage between French and Vietnamese cuisines.


Street Vendor Saigon: Banh Mi

Other dishes not to be missed is the Royal cuisine of Hue, Banh Beo which is a rice flour dumpling/pod in a small bowl combined with small dried prawns and pork rinds. Banh Lok is a more gelatinous rice ‘rectangle’ with whole dried prawns and pork fat enveloped and steamed in a banana leaf. Alone, the flavours are subtle and the texture soft, however when paired with the spicy, fishy, salty dipping sauce, the flavours of the pork and prawn are intensified.

Whilst these can be sourced out in Saigon, the quality and price is far superior in Hue. Not much else to see in Hue apart from the Citadel and a day spent biking around, but definitely worth the trip for the food alone.

Also a standout is Banh Khoai which is an egg and rice flour pancake with prawns, pork meat and beansprouts.

Hue: Banh Beo (small dish) and Banh Lok (Banana leaf)
One of my absolute favourites.

By the time I reached Saigon (I realise it’s called Ho Chi Minh now, however the locals still refer to it as Saigon) I was encountering similar dishes. Whilst I wasn’t growing tired of the food at all, I was struggling to find totally new eats.

However, I was staying a stone’s throw from this bustling restaurant below and after arriving late and starving, a new friend and I wandered down for a much needed beer (it’s always a hot, humid Summer’s day in Vietnam. The weather varies from hot and humid to fucking hot and humid and storming) and to see what the fuss was all about.

Beef Bo Kho.

Holy crap. It deserves a line to itself, centre alignment, bold and italics. I’d make it a gif if I had more time.

A hearty beef stew with carrots and onions in a rich tomato broth very similar to Beef Bourguignon, asian-a-fied with liberal dashings of basil, bean sprouts, chili and lemon. You can choose to have it with either rice noodles or a baguette. I preferred to just eat it straight up with extra bean sprouts.

Long lost love: Beef Bo Kho. The first thing I will eat the next time I’m in Saigon.

Whilst there is so much choice of what to eat in Vietnam, and I seldom ate the same thing twice (except for the free bowl of Pho for breakfast available at all the hostels I was staying at), this, available only in Saigon, was a daily staple. Seemingly an odd choice to be eating such a rich stew in the stifling heat, the flavours, fall-apart-tender meat seasoned with star anise and cinnamon was such a stellar meal that I still find myself thinking about it now.

Bia Hoi Corner: Old Quarter Hanoi

Not to be missed is Bia Hoi Corner in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Basically an intersection where there are four ‘bars’ on the corner selling large pints of fresh beer for 5,000 dong – .25AUD. They usually run out of beer at around 10pm – in line with the curfew, yes curfew, on the whole city (the one reminder you’re in a Communist country – oh and also the 5am? 6am? propaganda-ish sounding radio announcements). The other stipulation is technically it’s illegal to have chairs on the road, and the police roam past on regular patrols. There seems to be an unspoken handshake that if you just kinda attempt to get up and move your stool, all is forgiven.

I cannot even begin to describe my love for Vietnam. I had the luxury of spending however long I wanted in each city, heading in any direction I wanted. Whilst on face value, it is a mish mash of overloaded scooters, beautiful women covered head to toe, middle aged men with their shirts rolled up and full bellies exposed as a sign of wealth, stifling heat and the fishy, salty, sour smelling street food prepared on seemingly dirty apparatuses only to be served at doll-sized plastic tables and chairs, there is so much generosity, kindness and beauty to be discovered.

Learn the culture through the food, try anything and everything and avoid the places Lonely Planet suggests. It is the only way to truly experience Vietnam. Sit down with the locals on the tiny plastic chairs. Eat at the places on the street where you don’t even have to order, where there’s just one thing on the menu. Don’t be afraid to try anything once. If you see something you wanna try, buy it then and there, because chances are you might not see it again.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” James Michener.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 27, 2012 at 18:16

Posted in Lifestyle, Rambles, Travel

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Faffing about: Time Travel prelude….

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Libertine – Paddington

Having grown up in Australia, we have the privilege of being exposed to a myriad of food cultures. The standard and authenticity of these select foods is outta this world, due to our multicultural population. What is crazy though is not being able to get a decent meal after 9pm. “Kitchen closed” What the shiz?

I first realised the high quality of  ethnic food in Australia when I moved to Sweden and sampled various “Thai” and “Japanese” restaurants which were run by people of said ethnicity, however I can only guess that due to a more conservative taste palette of the Swedes (not very spicy) or to cut costs with expensive, albeit obviously necessary ingredients, some things, like taste and flavour, were thrown outta the imported plane window.

I spent most of my food-appreciating, wining and dining years in Brisbane and food culture there is immense, focusing on everything from raw, vegan and wholesome, to hearty and artery clogging and everything in between. Traditonally, certain suburbs became well renowned for different types of food, depending on who immigrated there, however with the gentrification of all the inner-city suburbs this has changed and good food of any nationality can be found pretty much anywhere.

Still though, some remain pertinent. Want Greek? Head to West End, Lefka’s has the best cinnamony Mousakka, lemon potatoes, fried haloumi – OMG! and lamb shanks as big as your head. Ouzeri is casual, alfresco sidewalk eating that is the place to go for group parties; their platters are of sizeable quantity, without substituting quality, I can still taste their fava beans. yum. West End is also home to many Vietnamese restaurants with Kim Thanh being my personal favourite for Hue spicy soup, prawn and pork rice paper rolls and a very much missed 3 colour drink. Huangs also has the best Massaman curry I’ve had outside of Thailand.

Take-away section of Lefka’s. So. freaking. good.

Sunnybank, traditionally home to a predominantly Chinese community, however in recent years has grown further to include Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, basically all Asian cultures, specialises in the cheapest and largest pan-asian cuisine. Singaporean Hainanese Chicken, Taiwanese drunken chicken, Korean Chimaek 치맥 beer and chicken plus all other vegetable and animal combinations can be found here. Just be careful, sometimes the area can be quite literally on fire.

My favourite Korean BBQ joint in Brisbane – Obaltan

However, being a 2-zone city girl myself this was always too far out for me and instead I milled about the city fringe for good Asian fare. Hubbed around Elizabeth Street in the city is a growing selection of Korean bbq, traditional restaurants and noraebangs thanks to the growing Korean student population. Good Japanese sushi trains, hand roll boogaloo’s, ramen joints, gyoza and izakaya places, as well as fine dining can also be found around here. King of Kings Yum Cha in the Valley was also a staple for the craziness and awesomeness that has to be experienced to be believed.

Good Italian restaurants are also found around Teneriffe/New Farm with Vespa Pizza having an amazing cinnamon roast butternut pumpkin with dried chilli, sage and fetta although the 3 little piggies was always the favourite for my best friend Veracakes. We also shared some serious d+m’s over their smashed kipflers and a good, or cheap – depending where we were in our pay cycle –  red from our selected favourite bottleshopboy of the moment.

Vespa Pizza

Paddington, my old hood, home to many cafes that serve up a mean eggs benedict with a babycino for the bambino and provide a water bowl for your little white yap-yap, is also home to some of the best pub steaks when you wanna get your bogan on at the Paddo or the Cacko. “Rib fillet, medium rare with mushroom sauce” is the catcall, the wolf whistle, on Tight-ass 2-for-1 Tuesdays.
Fine Italian can also be found at 1879 which does amazing Pizza and Vio’s, an elaborate setting for an elaborate menu.
Old locals for me, The Lark which does inventive mod-aus fine dining with an impressive whisky collection and amazing cocktails (and will let you stay on after closing time and persist for weeks on end with my silly requests of a long lost cocktail – he did nail it in the end) and Cartel – the bar where everyone knows your name and you can kick back on one of the couches, play some videogames, watch some Star Wars, listen to some local music or just enjoy good craft beer or Monteith’s on tap – brilliant.
Other staples were the dark and atmospheric Spanish tapas bar Peasant or the vibrant French/Vietnamese fusion fare at Libertine, which has a magical vibe at dusk on a balmy Summer’s eve. And whilst most people crave a greasy fry-up when hungover, I always could be found at the sushi train Sunday afternoon sipping my hangover away over miso soup and a giant Kirin.
However, let’s be brutally honest here, Harry’s diner has also saved many a drunken night with a deep fried dim sim, spring roll or chicken chips to soak up the inebriation. Also worth a mention is the Paddo Bottle-O – open until midnight – the latest in the city fringe and a 5 minute walk, 2 minute run away from my old beloved terrace house.
On the other sober hand, Fundies, a local institution, has organic vegetarian, vegan and raw salads, bakes, burgers and cakes, as well as having a store next door to pick up all your essential grains, groceries and gourmet snacks.

Cartel

Fundies nosh. yum.

Oh, I miss home now.

Peasant – many a night spent at that bar.

I haven’t even mentioned Indian, Mexican, Nepalese, the cafe brunch scene and amazing Modern Australian which is basically a fusion of everything available. Check out the menu at Esquire here for an idea of good Australian food, kimchi and beef ‘bbq’ chips?  Scraped raw Wagyu beef with soy, ginger and fried rice? And in the year that I’ve left there seems to be whole new wonder of restaurants, cafes and bars to tickle the fetish of anyone, regardless of what you’re culinarily in to.

Indian Kitchen – by no means the best Indian in Brisbane, but authentic, cheap and an institution.

But this wasn’t meant to be a post on the Brisbane food scene. Or food scenes in general. Clearly got sidetracked, but realise I’ve written too much now to simply delete and start again. The nostalgia of home has been warming.

But rather, this is the intro into a series of travel snaps. Travel times. Time travel.

Whilst obviously the Korean food here is very authentic, it is hard to find other food that hasn’t been korean-i-fied. Pickles with your bulgolgi pizza? Pickles in a Vietnamese rice paper roll? Kimchi tacos and burritos? This has made me reflect back to not only food available in Brisbane, but the traditional food I’ve eaten whilst travelling.

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Pizza and ah, pickles?

I am interested in how the food traditionally eaten by different cultures affects their lifestyle. Different cultures have certain rituals with food, unique ingredients, cooking techniques, eating styles, which affects their lives in so many ways; their relationships with family and friends, weight, complexion and facial features.

Food is the focal point of celebrations, tragedies and everything in between the world over. Travel, real travel off the beaten tour package path allows us the privilege to witness first hand these different cultures, norms and cooking practices whilst gaining wisdom and insight into the interaction and relationships of people from different backgrounds.

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 26, 2012 at 18:09

So. You wanna move to Seoul?

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Well, good for you. Welcome.

So, here’s a few things I had been told, heard about or read up late on some blog somewhere and immediately dispersed, only to find myself months later stuck in the throes of brutal culture shock desperately wishing I had paid attention the internet wisdomry.

  • Seoul is massive. Really massive. Not only in landmass, but there are 20 million people in this crowded city!
  • The society is the most homogenous I have encountered.
    I’m going to make up a statistic based on my observations, but maybe around 98% Korean. With the other 1.95% Chinese and 0.05% foreign English teacher / American soldier.
    Sometimes I get the urge to say “hi!” to a random foreigner, but realise I look pretty much like the other 98% to them. And if I did say hi, I would look 100% bloody insane.
  • Plastic surgery is out of control. Seriously. There are people I think I keep seeing over and over again (in a city this dense?) but then I realise it’s just the ‘Gangnam face’
  • Learn Hangul (Korean lettering system) before you arrive! Then you will be able to understand signs etc so you can landmark yourself and not get completely lost (like me)
    I’d like to say because then you will be able to read, but, well Korean’s a double-kick-to-the-guts language to learn. You have to learn to read Hangul first, then work on the Korean to English translation.
    Although, there’s a few Konglish words out there. I can’t describe the elation I feel when I’m reading Hangul and realise it’s actually an English word. (this link actually says ‘se-tar-eh buk-seh ko-pee) I feel like I deserve a gold star.
  • Learn a few basic phrases, as you should when you visit any foreign speaking country. The older generation struggle to communicate in English full stop making it difficult to get a cab, ask for directions and buy things (and get ‘waygookin’ {Korean word for ‘foreigner’} tax). Most young people can speak and understand English but are much too afraid of making a mistake to speak with you, erupting into a fit of giggles or be very kind and helpful but begin to sweat and become flushed in the face, leading to a very uncomfortable situation for everyone concerned.
  • Always take a business card or write down the address of your accommodation in Hangul because at some point you will get lost and need to ask for directions or catch a cab. Even if you think you can say where you want to go, as soon as the cab driver hears a non-korean accent they immediately turn into an uncooperative twat who cannot be the least bit helpful in assisting you.
    Me: Ga-ro-soo-gil ja-sey-oh (Garosugil {place} please)
    Cab: Eh?
    Me: Ga—ro—soo—gil ja-sey-oh
    Cab: Aigo……bla bla bla….miguk gyopo…..bla bla bla…hanguksaram…..anio anio……bla bla
    Me: Sinsa……GA-ro-soo-gil, Ga-RO-soo-gil, Ga-ro-SOOOOOOOOOOO-gil!
    Cab: Oooooooooh…ohhhhhhhh, Ga-ro-soo-GIL!……okayeeee okayeee okayeeeee.”
    Me: Oh, fucking Ga-ro-soo-GIL. That’s what I said dickhead. Now step on it. I’m late. Balee-Balee, Chop-Chop”
  • Um, there’s no street names….They are all numbers, which no-one really takes note of. Just look out for big landmarks, like a Paris Baguette, Tous Les Jours, A Twosome Place and you’re bound to get lost (These places are everywhere)
  • The entire city is in a rush. For what, I’m still not sure. Pushing, shoving, pushing in – the older generation are the worst and due to the idol-god-like status bestowed to these dear elderly folk, they think nothing to jab, curse or poke you to get to the front of the queue moving nowhere fast.
  • Sales assistants at any shop will tailgate you no matter how many stink-eye’s you give them or tell them you are ok.
  • You can get food items from home, pasta, bread, cheese (Don’t get me started, 10 – 15AUD), wine (Yellowtail 15AUD), good chocolate (Green + Blacks (7AUD) including Tim-Tams (6AUD) but you will pay through the roof for it….
  • They drive the opposite side of the car and road to Australia, left side drive on the right hand side of the road. I feel like those sideshow alley clowns when I jaywalk (which also no-one does here, probably due to the crazy-ass drivers that will attempt to mow you down even on a pedestrian crossing – still haven’t figured out what they’re actually for seeing as drivers do not slow down/stop) as I never know which way to look for oncoming traffic.
    There doesn’t really appear to be any speed limits.
    They also walk to the right hand side of a path and escalator etiquette is to stand on the right, pass on the left. And they really get narky if you don’t abide by this, especially at the subway.
    Do NOT stand on the left hand side watching the world go by at peak hour.
    You have been warned.
  • They are a city of hard workers who also like to party hard when they have the time, however there are different standards for men and women. This is quite a complex topic, which I will write more about. But generally, there is a lot of public drunkeness,  displayed by men, on any night of the week, which here, is socially acceptable.
    I, as a woman, have two shots of soju and am still standing and am therefore classified a champion drinker, but probably thought of as a harlot of the night.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 9, 2012 at 17:35