I still remember the first time I ever went into a Korean restaurant. A friend and I had been playing pool down at the Cue Club in Las Vegas for a couple of hours. It was pretty late as we left, but both of us were quite hungry. Seeing Korean restaurants all over the plaza, as we had for years, we decided that it was was well past time to give one a try.
I don’t remember what either of us ordered, but I do remember that we were both pretty unsure of what we’d be getting. Familiar choices were available, but we both decided to avoid going for the Chinese items we’d both had before. We wanted to try Korean food, so that meant launching into unknown parts of the menu. Anyway, we both found something to order, and in time the food came around.
Two main dishes and a whole host of side dishes, plus some rice in a covered bowl and a bowl of soup for each of us.
We could tell that some of the side dishes were Kimchi, but some of them were a complete mystery. We weren’t entirely sure if we should add the rice to the main dishes or visa versa, eat them separate, etc. Were the side dishes really side dishes, or were we supposed to mix them in with the rest? We just didn’t know the drill. We thought about just plowing ahead, but it occurred to us that doing it wrong might mean missing out on the full experience, so we decided to ask.
The waitress didn’t speak English that well, and the question was at least a little odd, but we stumbled through it, and she seemed to understand us. Was there some trick to eating this? How were we supposed to go about this?
Then she called over a second waitress and spoke to her in Korean.
The second waitress thought carefully and then began to explain something to the first, also in Korean. She went on for a while. …quite awhile! She was actually a little bit animated, and her answer must have taken at least five minutes.
Mike and I looked at each other. Clearly, we were right. There was something we should know, but what was it?
Our first waitress, asked a follow-up question.
The second answered her.
They began going back and forth, still in Korean. The full conversation must have taken at least ten minutes, tough it actually seemed much longer. We had no idea what they were saying to each other.
Mike and I prepared for the long and complex lesson we would surely get when this conversation was over.
Finally, the first waitress turned to us and we both straightened up, ready for the coming lecture.
“It’s just food. eat it!”
Needless to say; when a certain Bill Murray film came out, I laughed my ass off at a certain scene.