As I was just saying, soondae are chapchae noodles bound together like cables in a skin made of pig’s intestines (unless it’s “pigs'”), or the innards of some similarly unfortunate edible quadruped. I was starving, so I ate with relish, although not literally, even though I forwent the little dish of salt provided to dip the soondae in, considering my blood cells are already flying around the track like race cars in the Indianapolis 500 and don’t need any prodding.
One of the true joys of Korean life is eating out. The service here is wonderful. Because most Korean people are so gregarious, not to mention generous, they treat people well in either a professional or personal context, even if you’re a stinking hairy foreign invader who doesn’t shave the tops of his feet like me. The proprietor of the place sat us down under a heat lamp that gleamed orange like a beacon and rustled us up our grub. Jina proffered me a skewer adorned with a folded strip of oden in the meantime. Oden is a kind of noodle, light brown in hue, made with some poor bastard of a fish, or probably more like a thousand fish mixed together in a hellacious furry slurry.
The proprietor was all smiles as she served us our little dishes of goodness. Jina handed me some sticks that were halfway between chopsticks and toothpicks–the missing link in culinary wooden evolution–in order to spear the deokkboggi doggies (the term is used here figuratively; I’ve never tried dog meat and don’t think I’ll get around to it in this lifetime, not that I can pretend to be morally superior as someone who has indirectly dispatched a mountain of hapless fauna for my doubtful delectation; don’t worry, vegetarians and vegans; I’ll have my comeuppance before you know it).
A couple of Jina’s friends from the church popped their heads in to say hello. I didn’t recognize them but took them for yeshua jengin (Korean for “Jesus people”). Even though I’m no longer a slow eater (one of the disadvantages of not being able to speak the lingo is I can’t interrupt my own voracity by jabbering away to the annoyance of everyone around me, as I can and do back home), which probably explains why and how I’ve gotten so fat and I sometimes choke on my food (it’s considered polite here–just kidding), Jina encouraged me to finish gobbling our provender so the people waiting outside could get a table instead of freezing their asses and getting shipped off to Japan in time to be mounted as exhibits at the Sapporo Snow Festival.
I paid the woman who’d served us and thanked her. As we left, Jina and I apologized and said goodbye to her Christian friends, who were eating their food outside, and claimed to be perfectly happy to do so, not that they declined our offer to enter the tiny restaurant and do what they could to reverse the effects of rigor mortis, unless it was just frostbite.
We then went to a shop that sells side dishes owned and run by another member of the congregation (Christ runs quite a syndicate here). We hadn’t been there in ages–probably not for at least a year–so I was surprised that Jina led us there. I was also pleased, as the place offers some top-notch items–all manner of vegetable dishes, black beans, dried anchovies in spicy sauce, sticky nuts (sorry if that doesn’t sound particularly appetizing; I’m not used to writing about food in detail), and lots of greens, along with the requisite slaughtered scapegoats of the insatiable deity (homo “rapiens”), whom God made in His own image. . .
(Yeah, right. And the flying blue monkeys in The Wizard of Oz are professional airline pilots.)
After that we went to buy some tomatoes at a nearby market. When Jina couldn’t find what she was looking for, we retired to the so-called “supermarket” next door (United Statians would call it a grocery store). I kept my distance, not because I wanted to avoid her, but because the barker hawking fruits and vegetables outside was making a lot of noise, and I figured it would probably be crowded and cramped inside the store.
A moment later the barker actually paged me, so I went to give Jina her credit card so she could pay the cashier for her purchases.
I still haven’t gotten to the part about the shoes. I promise I’ll do that in the next entry. Also, I owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Martin. After I came up with the title for this entry, I remembered he had a bit about having “happy feet.” And twelve-string guitarist and singer/songwriter Leo Kottke has an album called My Feet Are Smiling, in which he’s juggling orange oranges in an otherwise black and white photo on the album cover.