Hanok, soon to be a memory

Hannok, Asan.jpgLike in so many other countries, time and tide waits for no-one. It’s surprising what pieces of days gone-by you can see if you have your eyes open. Vacant for sometime, the Korean traditional home, a hanok (한욱) is finally making way for a faceless, nameless office building. Or maybe a lowrise apartment building? At one point in my time in Korea, I’ve stayed in a Hanok. I must admit that they have very little furniture, are small but possess the one thing that everyone would like in the Wintertime. Floor heating. Called an on-dol, it’s essentially a series of pipes underneith the house where hot gases from burning charcoal or wood was burnt to supply heat. A more contemporary variation is that copper piping and hot water is used in place of hot gases. I can only theorise that if the floor had cracks in it, carbon monoxide poisoning resulted. What really interested me in this hanok laid bare was the ceiling space was filled up with earth or clay. Wow, that’s some thermal insulation.Hannok, decontrustion.jpg

It’s owners may have long since gone so, it’s a little sad to see something that has endured to finally be knocked down just for the sake of money. But since, the memories attached to it only belonged to it’s owners, presumably gone, the home must also fade into memories.

Memories, and the taste of stone Bibimbap

Memories of bibimbap.jpgNormally, I don’t seek out spicy foods, it makes me itch. So, from this I normally don’t eat Korean traditional foods because so much of it is spiced. However, today all of us were out and decided to fill the gap. A Kim-babap Na-ra hove into view and we choose our meals. I choose a cheese don-cass, while my wife opted for a stone bibimbap. This, once served, had in it a lot of pepper sauce. Stirring it into the rice, mung bean shoots and a lot of other Korean vegetable goodies, it turned into a scarlet red mixture. Still, I ate some. I remember the times I’ve had this type of bibimbap before and I also remembered the crunchiness of the over cooked rice, made so by the hot stone bowl, and, where I’d eaten it was in Jeon-ju. A city famous for it’s good food and of course, bibimbap.  I also ate the kim-chi, which was fresh and some of the oden. All of them spicy and all of them eaten with a swing of water. My only wish was that the kim-chi was aged kim-chi. In my opinion it tastes better, since it has the qualities of being less spicy and more sour because of the fermentation. Still, it was a good meal, cheap, familiar and even a little bit homely.