60th Birthday Hoopla

On Friday, my mother turned 60 glorious years old. That’s alot of years folks. And the 60th birthday, along with the 1st birthday, are of the most significance in Korean culture. I suppose the 1st is due to high infant mortality rates back in the olden days, and the 60th due to lower life spans as well in the olden days. So back then, it was really exciting to make it to age 1, and even more exciting if you lived to the ripe old age of 60. You get big parties on each of these occasions. On your 1st, you have to wear a special outfit and people give you money and such. When you’re 60, you get a big party, but I think you can wear what you want!

My mom did not want any kind of formal shindig, and peferred to keep it small and simple between family only. We gathered at my aun’t house in Delaware and had some relatives and friends over for another gut expanding family food fest. she picked up food from a local Korean restaurant and also made kalbi. Or galbi, depending on how you choose to romanize the pronounciation of Korean food. Either way is fine with me, as long as I get to eat.

So kalbi/galbi is the famed Korean bbq. It’s something that sounds so exotic, but is so not. It just happens to be a not so obvious cut of meat (short ribs) and sounds much more ethnic than it is. There’s not even any ethnic ingredients in it. It’s only as ethnic as garlic and soy sauce and sugar can get. It was raining that night, but my uncle still grilled outside with an umbrella! I like the ones that are extremely well cooked, even burnt.

We had a bunch of random food that day. Nothing of 60th birthday significance. There were some chicken wings, which were sort of general tso’s chicken-y tasting. There was also some tempura shrimp with a slightly thai-esque dipping sauce. I liked it. We had kimchi and other banchan. Kimchi and banchan are going to be found at pretty much every Korean meal. Incidentally, this was some of the best kimchi I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve had alot of kimchi, and this is definitely in my top 5, ever. We also had japchae, which is a cold potato noodle dish with some veggies and meat mixed in. That is often served at parties and such.

Oh, then there was this weird “salad” type thing with a mustard sauce, called kyujachae. It had lots of random shredded vegetables and shredded jellyfish (I think) and then you pour a mustard based sauce over it and mix. See the before and after pictures! It’s usually very spicy hot mustard which tends to clear out your sinuses. And remember, I don’t like things mustard. But this one wasn’t very mustard-y at all, and I quite liked it. Yey for me!

We also had cake, of course. It was a mocha cake (see the coffee beans) and I really liked it because the icing is very light whipped icing, not the heavy kind. This came from a Korean bakery, but there are basically two types of Korean bakeries. There’s the kind that make western type cakes and pastries and other bread types items. And the other makes traditional rice cake type stuff. Now remember, it’s not the Quaker rice cake stuff, but the rice-based things. More to come on rice-based stuff later as we continue on revisiting the whole 60th birthday shebangybang. There was incredible amounts of eating going on every day. At every meal. Whew!

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