Living overseas can be awesome, but it does have its downsides. There's only so long you can sustain amazement in a place before you just need something that doesn't bring on culture shock. Most days it's not a big deal. Mechanical routine carries you through things pretty effectively. But then there are the other days, the ones spent eating a tub of peanut butter on the couch, cry-watching old movies from your childhood, and wishing someone would just open a Kopp's nearby and end your suffering. This hits hardest around the holidays. You'll be in a cab or a coffee shop when a Christmas song comes on, and all the suddenly you're just done with Asia, done with rice and kimchi and noodles and k-pop and not being able to understand anyone, done with living out your own, sad version of a Heinlein novel. Psychologically, you want to go home, sit around the table with friends and family, and tuck in to a nice, traditional, waist-expanding meal.
But you aren't home, of course. Odds are, you're halfway through your contract, without much option but to grin and bear it. Skype helps, though it is a poor substitute for actual human contact. But there are other things you can do to sooth the savage homesickness beast.
Which brings us to that turkey up there. Okay, so the picture is a little out of date. There WAS a turkey in our freezer... in November... before we crammed it in our bellies (because duh... of course we ate it). But who cares, really? So we ate a bird on the holiday. So do millions of people. The fascinating thing about that picture isn't the presence of the bird; it's how we got it in the first place.
If you know anything about this country, you know it isn't exactly drowning in turkey. If you ask Koreans what they think of this traditional American meat, you'll get a blank stare followed by, "... do you mean chicken?" Grocers don't carry it. If you're lucky enough to live in Seoul, you may be able to find a few in a Costco, or somewhere catering to Western shoppers. But the poor EPIK teacher stationed literally anywhere else is out of luck.
Similarly, Not-Seoul Korea is sadly deficient when it comes to things like bratwurst or deli meat. You can go to the store and find a wide range of sausages, from "grill franks" to "smoked" to "traditional Italian." But they ALL taste like Oscar Meyer. And if you're in the mood for a good, old-fashioned cookout, super-processed mystery meat just will not do (unless you're into that, in which case hey, go nuts).
But there is a solution, a way to scratch that homesick itch, that need for the familiar. And the best part is, you don't even have to leave your couch.
I'm talking about the High Street Market.
Erin and I found this late last year, and believe me, we were sad it took that long. The store is physically located in Itaewon, and it is awesome, but that's not what I'm going to talk about here. No, what I'm going to share with you is the glory of High Street Market's home delivery. Because that turkey up there? Totally bought online and shipped right to our apartment. We've purchased everything from breakfast sausage to brats to corned beef. Their stock includes cheeses, baking supplies, even Lucky Charms.
Now, the store is expensive. I'm not going to lie. A pack of brats will run about $8.00 for four. Deli meats are just astronomically pricey, really. Like $15.00 for a pound, depending on what you get. And a turkey will go for close to $80. On the plus side, delivery is super-ridiculously cheap at $3.00, with an additional $3.00 for a cooler and some ice packs. Even better, you can enter everything in English! And if you live anywhere in Korea? They will bring it right to your door. Seoul? Of course! Busan? Why not! A remote shack in the countryside? Bring it! Jeju Island? HECK YEAH!
Still, it's not an everyday thing. It can't be. We actually want to save a little money, and THIS is not the way to do that. But every once in a while, when that nostalgia bug hits extra hard and you just need a little taste from home, it's nice to have the option.