대추 jujube and 밤 raw chestnuts on the chuseok memorial table
It was Korean Thanksgiving – chuseok – this weekend so we stayed with my parents-in-law on Saturday night since the ceremony is held early on chuseok morning. A lot of the cooking for the ceremony is done the day before but there’s still a lot to be done in the morning – making namul, preparing fish and beef, not to mention filling all the special dishes for the memorial table – then dishes have to be laid out on the table in a certain order. Read more about chuseok and the food for the memorial service table here.
One of the traditional foods at chuseok is songpyeon – rice cakes with a sweet sesame filling. There are lots of different kinds of rice cakes for different occasions but songpyeon rice cakes symbolise the moon and they have to be made with this year’s new rice especially for thanksgiving.
My mother-in-law steams the songpyeon with pine needles for added aroma and I think this is to stop them sticking together too – after steaming them we have to pick all the pine needles off the rice cakes but the songpyeon then start sticking to everything in sight – each other, my fingers, stray pine needles, the plate …
But I learned the secret to stopping them sticking like this – to cover them in a few drops of sesame oil. Otherwise there’s a danger of ending up with one great big multi-coloured rice cake! The sesame oil adds a nutty flavour too. Right, I’m off to have a cup of green tea and some leftover rice cakes.
I know Chuseok is over but I keep hearing horror stories about the terrible times that families (or rather daughter-in-laws) have during the holidays. The Chuseok holiday in particular is notorious for causing problems in marriages. This is because, generally speaking, wives spend the whole time busy cooking and washing up while their husbands laze around and drink! And with the added stress of spending time with in-laws and extended families, this causes serious arguments: I heard that the post-chuseok period is a danger period for couples as they try to get over their stressful holidays. And some marriages can’t survive and end in divorce! Continue reading “Which male celebrity would help out most in the kitchen during Chuseok?” »
Traditionally, people wear hanbok during Chuseok and even the SBS news readers were wearing their traditional dress on the 8PM news last night. It’s more common to see women in hanbok than men, and this news reader said that this is the first time he has worn a hanbok in 17 years! I didn’t see anyone wearing hanbok on the other TV channels though.
SBS news 8PM September 12th 2011
It’s the final day of the Chuseok holiday today, so everything goes back to normal tomorrow. There’ll be traffic jams coming back to Seoul as everyone returns from their trips around the country to visit family. Lots of the local shops have been closed for the holidays. Our local family-run bakery was closed for the first time in ages – they are usually open 7 days a week. But our local corner shop was open and they said they weren’t going away this year. For people who don’t have family (or don’t want to see their family) Chuseok can be a lonely time. According to the news, hotels in Seoul are full of single guests during the Chuseok holiday – people who don’t want to stay at home by themselves so check in to a hotel instead. I suppose it’s similar to Christmas or New Year for me. I like spending time alone but definitely not on Christmas Day or New Years Eve!
This morning I watched some of 도전1000곡 (to-cheon 1000 kok) which is a kind of karaoke singing competition for ‘talent’ on SBS. Actors and entertainers take turns to choose a number which is then put into the karaoke machine. After that, the celebrities have to sing whichever song starts playing. (You need to know a lot of songs to be good at this!) Continue reading “Chuseok TV” »
Chuseok(추석) Korean Thanksgiving begins today. It’s the biggest holiday of the year so there’ll be an exodus out of Seoul as lots of people head off to visit family in other parts of Korea. It’s usually pretty quiet in Seoul, so it’s a good time to get out and about in the city. We’re going to my in-laws and will stay overnight as the actual memorial ceremony called 차례 cha rye will be done early tomorrow morning. There’s lots of food to prepare and much of it will be done today (mostly by my mother-in-law and a tiny bit by me). Continue reading “What happens at Chuseok?” »