Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Culinary Adventures

From what we understand, we are quite lucky to be in Geoje now and not earlier. Two supermarkets in Okpo and the Tesco in Gohyeon, near the shipyard, are among the fairly recent conveniences that we enjoy now. As a result, it's not hard to find a lot of the foods and other goods that we're used to as Westerners. Unfortunately, though, a major deficit in food stores here is the cheese selection. We can buy cheddar and mozzerella, but other fancy kinds of cheeses are harder to come by. One cheese that I particularly miss is ricotta, which plays a starring role in my favorite food, lasagna. A few weeks ago I found myself yearning for some lasagna, so I decided to check for ricotta in a deli shop where I had seen some unusual cheeses on offer. A very small tub of ricotta cheese, about 1/2 cup to be exact, cost 9,500 won, or about $9.50. But such is the pull of lasagna that I paid it willingly. At least Keegan and I got several meals out of our very pricey pan of lasagna!

Our tiny ricotta tub, with Keegan's cell phone for scale.

Another food adventure involved a strange fruit we found at the supermarket. It looked like a large, green-skinned, oval apple, and we decided to buy it and see what it was like. First we discovered that it was hard as a rock. It was nearly impossible to cut off a piece to sample, but when we did, we were both sorry. Not only is this fruit hard as a rock, but also incredibly bitter. This is not a fruit that has evolved to be remotely approachable to human tastes. Some research on the Internet led us to the discovery that we had bought Chinese quinces, which are, as we had already learned, basically inedible unless cooked for a very long time with lots of sugar, as in quince jelly. Since we don't have any jelly jars or any experience making jelly, I looked around for another quince recipe and found one for a quince and apple crisp. It came out delicious, with the sweetness of the apples, sugar, and maple syrup complimented well by the tartness of the well-cooked quince. But the difficulty of peeling, coring, and chopping up the quince is not an experience I'm eager to repeat. I'd say the quince is giving us pretty strong signals that it does not want to be eaten, and I'm willing to listen to those from now on.

A Chinese quince and a pan of quince-apple crisp.

A more friendly fruit we've been enjoying are small tangerines from Jeju, a large island that is the southernmost part of Korea. They are tiny and sweet and tasty, and I bought a huge box of them last time we went shopping. In Korea, it is not unusual to see people buying fruit in bulk when it's in season, and we've gotten caught up in the trend. Here's the result:


4 comments:

Mom M. said...

Isn't it fun to try new things? Well, some new things! Maybe you could make your own ricotta. Here's a link to a recipe. It sounds fairly easy, if you can get milk and vinegar where you are.

http://italianfood.about.com/library/rec/blr0949.htm

chrissy said...

Yes, your Mom is right Ellen. Ricotta is easy to make and my mom makes it all the time. You can also easily make lots of other cheeses (even with store bought cow's milk) with a little culture, cheese cloth, scale, weights and a thermometer. I think I know what we're going to send you for Christmas now! =P

Jamie said...

What a beautiful picture of fruit! Last week I made Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes for our office Halloween party - they were a hit.

KIM! said...

love it! quince... so weird what people eat that somehow we never even hear of. I am reading a book right now called fierce food about common foods you may eat travelling in strange lands. I could write a better book, but it is interesting.

Yay for lasagna!