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Married: Lunar Calendar Birthdays

July 17, 2011 Leave a comment

My mother and father-in-law’s (but not my wife or brother-in-law’s) birthdays are calculated based on a lunar calendar. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, their birthdays are on a different day every year. They may be born in the 7th month on the 24th day, for example, but that may be 8/13 on year and 9/2 next year (those dates are not accurate, don’t use them). So, on top of Koreans adding another year, sometimes two, to their ages, they may have variable month birthdays. Confusing? It gets even more confusing when you try to translate the dates from Lunar-to-Gregorian. There are many resources to go the other direction, but apparently very few, very poor resources to go the other way I’d need it. This also brings up an issue when someone asks when my mother-in-law’s birthday is. I don’t know. My WIFE doesn’t know, and my mother-in-law doesn’t know. At least, not in a way that would answer the question.
I blame the Chinese. the whole gunpowder aside, they do a lot to make Korean language and culture more confusing than it needs to be.

Categories: Married

Married: Immigration Stuff

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

This is more a cross-link than anything else, but we have put up a site (in English and Korean!) that deals with what we went through from her student visa through the immigration interview.
Anyone who is interested in the whole green card process can check it out on Foreign-Relations.com.

Categories: Etcetera, Married

Married: Food

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

First, the marriage has been great so far, and it certainly hasn’t been long enough to get out of the honeymoon phase.
I just want to go over a few things that were issues/non-issues in our relationship.

Food

Food was NOT an issue for us. I was raised on spicy food and strange things. In my time in Korea, I tried everything I could: sea cucumbers, dog, boiled silkworm larva and of course all the normal dishes. During our dating we shared many meals. Now we eat about half Korean/Half American (which includes Mexican, Italian, German and anything else I learn to cook).

She initially didn’t like cheese much. Korean cheese selection was terrible; mostly processed American cheese singles and Mozzarella. Over time her tastes changed and now she likes many types of cheeses. Her parents, however, do not like cheese.

Spicy is a highly relative term, I’ve learned. I rarely felt Korean food was too spicy, but many Koreans felt what I was eating was spicy to them. I’ve also noticed several Koreans feel food that is flavored with, say, Mexican spices, is spicy, but not Korean spices. When we had a Thai foreign exchange student living with my family, she felt Thai food was not too spicy, but Mexican was. I feel it’s highly relative to what you’re used to, not Scoville heat units.

There were really only three issues for me: Heat, Drink and Fish Sauce.
– Koreans like their soups hot. Boiling hot. Surface of the Sun Hot. And they eat it while it is that hot. I usually can’t eat a Korean soup for several minutes, after it has cooled down to what most Americans would consider normal heat for soup.
– Drinking during meals is kept to a minimum. I’m talking about water, not booze. They have tiny metal cups a little bigger than a Dixie cup, and that’s usually all they drink from until the meal is done. I usually drink about 2 large glasses of water or tea with a meal. It’s very much a matter of habit, but during a meal in Korea, I’d drink 4-5 little cups, which usually required a trip to a water cooler or having some poor person pass me the water pitcher repeatedly. In America, this hasn’t been an issue, and she drinks as much as I do.
– Fish Sauce is a key ingredient in some Kimchi. While I love seafood, I think Fish Sauce smells bad. When she makes Kimchi, here in America, she keeps the Fish Sauce to a minimum (much to my and our neighbor’s fortunes). In Korea, some of the Kimchi was just way too fishy for me.

It should also be noted, while on the subject of cooking, that most Korean food takes a huge amount of time and dirty dishes to make. For every 1 pot I’d use to make a dish, it seems like she uses at least 1.5 pots. There is a lot of Boil this then throw away everything but the water, then boil it again instructions, which are probably present in old cooking methods used in the US.

In closing the food section, I’d just like to say that I like Korean food. She cooks some of the best Korean food I’ve ever had, despite only learning to cook a few years ago (most Korean girls only learn how to cook shortly before marriage). I know how to cook exactly 2 Korean dishes Doenjang jjigae (된장찌개) (Korean Soybean soup, like Miso soup) and Gochujang daejigogi (고추장 돼지고기) (Spicy meat with vegetables). She hasn’t really cooked much American food, either, but I think she could, given motivation.

Categories: Married