Life in an RV

Korea in an RV

On the menu:
Kalbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)
Cold Korean Bean Sprouts
Korean Cucumber Salad
White Rice

Another peek at that delectable Kalbi...I have used this marinade for so many different

This week's groceries came to $13.39. That left $6.61 leftover for the Beach Bag. Total after week 7: $38.19...and that's not too dang bad, if I do say so myself!
Korea was united until 1948, that's when it divided into 2 states: North Korea and South Korea. South Korea is a capitalist, democratic country and North Korea is a communist country. While making this cuisine, I did not separate the two states, but, rather, I will refer to Korea as a whole instead of two different halves.
Korea is located on the Korean peninsula and borders China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast and is separated form Japan to the east by the Korean Strait.
In the past, due to lack of medical information, Korea's seasonal temperature differences and many childhood related diseases, the death rate for kids was through the roof. Many children died before their first birthday. After the first year, the survival rate sharply increased, so this milestone was a very happy time for Korean parents. They would celebrate Tol, a child's first birthday. The traditional celebration had four major components: 1) praying and giving thanks. 2) making and wearing special birthday clothes. 3) preparing the table and performing the Toljabee, and 4) sharing the food with guests and neighbors.
Traditionally, Koreans pray to Sanshin (a mountain god) and Samshin (a birth god called shamshin-halmuni, or "Grandmother") on certain days following a child's birth: at birth, 3-7 days after birth and again when a child reached 100 days old. They believed Samshin resided in the cloth surrounding the baby. To prepare the praying table, the parents placed a bowl of steamed rice, sea-mustard soup (miyeok-guk) and a bowl of pure water. Next to the table was placed samshin siru (layered red bean rice cake). This rice cake was not shared outside the faimily. It was believed that to do so would bring bad luck to the child. After the table was prepared, the child's mother or grandmother would pray with her 2 hands together. Rubbing her palms todether, she would ask for the child's longevity, wish luck to the mountain god and give thanks to the birth god. This was accompanied by repeated bowing. Only female family members were allowed to participate, no male members were allowed. This was done early in the morning.
The clothes worn by a child for Tol were colorful and dressy with a belt wrapped twice around for longevity and a pouch for luck.
The parents prepared a special Tol table for the celebration. The main food would include ddeok (rice cakes) and fruit. Over 12 different types of ddeok were prepared. Among the 12, paikseolgi (steamed rice cakes) and susu-kyongdan (rice cakes coated with red bean powder) were always included. Fruits would vary according to what season it was. Also, a bowl of rice, sea mustard soup and many other would be displayed.
Along with the food, other items, such as a large bundle of thread, a brush, a Korean calligraphy set, pencil, book, money, bow & arrow (for boys), needle, scissors and ruler (for girls) were arranged to predict the child's future. The child was placed at the table with the guests facing him or her. Toljabee is the event where the birthday child goes around the table and picks up items that attract him or her. The child's future is predicted by the first and second items that they grab. If the child grabbed the bow & arrow, he would become a warrior, if the child grabbed needle and thread, they would have a long life, rice or rice cake meant they would become rich and if the child grabbed the knife, they would become an excellent cook. After the Toljabee, parents would share most of the Tol food with guests and relatives. It is custom that when guests and neighbors recieve food, they say kind words and wish for the child's longevity, as well as good fortune. They also give parents presents such as a gold ring, clothes or toys. The gold rings are not for the child to wear but rather the intention is for the parents to use them to pay for the child's education or other needs.
Some of the food meanings pertaining to Tol:
*white steamed rice cakes (paekseolgi) symbolize divine, clean spirit and longevity
*rice cakes coated with red bean powder (susu-kyongdan) ward off evil spirits so a child can grow disease-free. Koreans believe that evil spirits dislike the color red.
*sticky rice cake mean the child will be stubborn and strong
*stuffed rice cakes shaped like half-moons (injulmi and chal-ddeok)-one type of cake is empty and the other type is filled. The empty ones mean that a child will grow a big heart and the filled represent wisdom.
*fruit means that the child's descendants will multiply and prosper
*noodles represent a long life.

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