The closer I get to going home, the more I start thinking about what foods I am looking forward to eating again. Korea has welcomed a lot of new foods and avenues of cooking in the past few years, but there are still a few things that it doesn't have just yet.
I'm fortunate enough to be arriving home in time for Easter dinner, which means I can try and combat my impending jet lag with my mom's ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, corn, and collard greens. But what about after that?
Instead of visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, I think it's more like Bojangles biscuits, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, and frozen yogurt that fuel my food fantasies. With every day crossed off on my calendar, I think of another food that I can't wait to eat. It's said that being in Korea can erase a lot of your food cravings, and that is true. But some cravings never go away, no matter how much time or distance you put between yourself and those treats.
When I sat down and actually thought about making a list, I was surprised at what ended up on the list, especially when I let my mind wander to all the things that you can't readily get over here. For example, I am stoked for Mexican food at some of my favorite restaurants at home--with fresh cilantro and limes! Korea has a bevy of different places you can eat Mexican food (or some version thereof), but most of those places are located in Seoul, which can be quite a trek for anyone not living nearby.
And while I've become used to the Korean version of Chinese food, what I wouldn't give for some "American food court style" Chinese, complete with egg rolls and spicy mustard. I'm crossing my fingers that the delicious buffet near my house is still open.
The one thing that I haven't been able to have in Korea since Hard Rock Cafe in Itaewon closed: pulled pork barbecue. Whether you take it with the tangy vinegar sauce or on the sweeter side with a tomato-based sauce, either way it's delicious with some coleslaw, hush-puppies, and a cold glass of sweet tea. Give me that or a Bojangles chicken biscuit for a pregame meal, and I'm in heaven.
I also am looking forward to having more variety in the cereal aisle. As anyone who's ever gone shopping in a grocery store in Korea can attest, the range of cereal available is sad. Most of the options are the sugary kinds geared towards kids, with few options in the healthy category. It's gotten better over the past few years with the addition of more Tesco brand cereals, but I am still missing brands like Cheerios, Kix, Chex, and Raisin Bran. (A box or two of Lucky Charms would be nice, too!)
Another thing I miss a lot is a variety in chocolate candy. Chocolate you buy here tastes different than chocolate you would get back home, and lacks that "oomph" in the flavor I enjoy. I recently received some mint chocolate that was made back home as a gift, and the taste between that and a Market-O chocolate was quite different. Plus, there are some candies that haven't made the jump across the ocean yet. I've only ever come across Reese's Peanut Butter Cups twice in my time in Korea, and both times the price was shocking. That's the beauty of places like Target and WalMart I suppose! I also miss York Peppermint Patties and Baby Ruth's.
While living in Korea has eliminated some of my cravings, some can never be forgotten. Not only am I looking forward to enjoying those foods soon, I get to try and exercise the important skill of moderation with re-introducing those foods to my diet. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way during my first visit that it isn't easy to go back and eat the way you used to at home. Certainly more prepared this time around.