10 March 2008

Korean Pancakes & an Unexpected Serenade

A few weeks ago, we decided to take a break from our usual shopping/eating routine, and checked out the "Jazz in the City" concert series at the KT Art Hall in Kwanghwamun. Tickets are a deal at only 1000 won. The KT Art Hall seems like a cool place to visit. In addition to musical performances and art, KT features moving making facilities (backdrops, cameras, lights,computers, etc.) that are free to use. If I ever decide to upgrade from my guerrilla snap and shoot style of production, perhaps I'll check out the KT Art Hall equipment.

After the concert, we stopped by a nearby bindae-ddeok restaurant. Bindae-ddeok is another food item that arose out of harder times, when grains were just way too expensive. It's a Korean pancake made out of mung bean powder, and often mixed with savory meats or seafood. We stopped at a restaurant that claims to be the 원조 or the "original" bindae-ddeok restaurant.

Now, this is the part where I get all Seinfieldian and have to ask, "What's the deal with the use of the word 'original'?" First of all, how can one possibly claim to be "THE Original." How do we know that some cave woman didn't mix together some crushed mung bean, chopped woolly mammoth, and water, and fry it up in her little prehistoric skillet? In my opinion, the title of "original" may only be claimed by the first person or persons to publicize their achievement. So for all you future inventors and visionaries out there, I suggest that once you've created something worthy of merit, at the very least post a notice on your facebook profile or your myspace blog. That way, twenty years from now, when everyone's claiming to have been the "original" creator of the deep fried chocolate cheeseburger craze, you can always refer to your good old blog.

Even if one's claims of being the "original ____________" is valid, in terms of the consumer, this really has little value. I think we're all guilty of confusing the word "original" with the word "best." Just because someone was the first to do something, this doesn't guarantee that they were or are the best. The Wright brothers may have been the original inventors of the airplane, but if given a choice between their rickety prototype and a 747, what would you choose?

In Korea, we're always seeing food stands that claim to be the "original" amongst dozens of other vendors who sell the same exact product. I respect the originator of a food trend, but frankly, I imagine that the following captions would be more eye-catching: AWARD WINNING (I mean, you don't have to specify which award), LOWEST PRICES (10 cents cheaper will do), or DANIEL HENNEY EATS HERE.

I'm not certain if the restaurant we went to was the original of originals, but it certainly looked over fifty years old. Their bindaeddeok was tasty, but also very greasy. The experience was particularly memorable thanks to the impromptu serenade by some random ajusshi. He literally just walked into the restaurant and started playing his guitar. His serenade reminded me of the troubadour on Gilmore Girls, except our guy was a little greasier, and probably more drunk.


cheri said...

haha your blog is awesome ^^

glad i (somehow) stumbled upon it!

anna said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cheri!

gordsellar said...

I love my the bindaeddeok. There's a great little place in Bucheon, where I live, that makes 'em.

Tell you know the "빈대떡 신사" song. If you don't, you need to look it up! Naughty dinner-stealing ajeoshis of the past beware!