Tuesday, October 7, 2014

School Lunch

School lunches and I have had a love/hate relationship during my time in Korea.  When I first arrived at my school, I did my best to choke down school lunches.  Most days I was only able to eat about 1/4 of my lunch because either the food was too spicy or I just didn't like it; but I tried my best to endure it because foreign teachers had been warned during orientation that we should try to do our best to show respect towards Korean culture.  Eating school lunch was a way to "fit in" and also a good way to bond with coworkers.  I certainly didn't want any negative attention coming my way so I did my best to eat school lunch, but it wasn't long before some coworkers were mentioning how little I was eating and voicing their concerns for me.  So after two months of eating cafeteria lunches, I finally asked my school if I could start packing my own lunch.  I did this not only because I hated school lunch, but because I also felt really bad about wasting so much food everyday.  Once I started bringing my lunch, things got much better, but it became such a hassle to decide everyday "What am I going to eat for lunch?".  So I packed my lunch from November to the end of July.  But I've decided to eat school lunch again out of convenience and I must say I clean my tray almost everyday.  It is so strange to me how a year ago I would dread going to lunch and now I look forward to it; my taste buds have really changed since first arriving in Korea.      

A typical school lunch always includes rice (main dish), soup (seaweed, chicken, acorn, etc.), kimchi (fermented cabbage or radish), some sort of fruit, and a meat or tofu-based side dish.  As for a beverage, there is a community tea station where you can grab a cup and help yourself.  I especially look forward to Wednesday lunches because they are "special".  On Wednesdays, the school cooks serve items that wouldn't usually be served on a regular day; some items that might be served on Wednesdays include battered shrimp, curry, (Koreanized) Chinese food, fried chicken, spaghetti, etc.  The school nutritionist is responsible for creating the lunch menu everyday.

This particular school lunch consisted of rice, seaweed soup, grapes, roasted potatoes, kimchi, and beef/octopus meat medley.  When I first arrived, I would have probably only eaten the grapes, rice, potatoes and meat....but now I've come to really enjoy kimchi and seaweed-based soups.

So what do you think of school lunch??  Do you think it sounds/looks appetizing??

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