If you remember my previous blog post about gift giving, you know that Koreans take this concept really, really seriously. You know who else does as well? Suppliers. A fringe benefit in working in Oil & Gas is that suppliers come by to visit. A lot. I haven't paid for a full week's worth of lunches in 3 years. If I get one more camouflage hat, I'm officially a member of Duck Dynasty and required to start chewing tobacco. I have more calendars than Miss February's oh-so-proud family. So you know if suppliers take gifts seriously and Koreans take gifts seriously, who is the grand champion of them all? That's right, motherfucking Korean Suppliers, baby!!!!! The Korean suppliers have elevated this prestigious title to another level to the point that the inside of an East Texas EPC firm is starting to look like a Korean Heritage Cultural Center. We might change our name to K-McDermott. There are little figurines everywhere, strange knitted things that are supposed to ward off evil spirits, ginseng, and this time around, cookies.
I have discussed untranslatable concepts from one language to another at length and I believe to comprehensive exhaustion. Or so I thought. Never in a million years would I imagine that the term "cookie" would be impossible to grasp. However, you should never doubt a properly motivated Korean to achieve the impossible. Because clearly someone over there convinced the entire nation that cookie is the best word to use for whatever the fuck came out of the box pictured above. It starts off promising. Looking at the picture, I'm sure you thought what I thought. "Cool, this is going to be delicious, I've had something similar to this in France." Here is the weird thing. Cookie in French is "biscuit." In Hangul, it's a radio antenna next to a cross cut of a boat next to a stick (쿠키). But you pronounce it "kuki." So on the surface, the Koreans have copied the cookie better than the French. However, apparently in Korea what they don't have are people who have ever baked anything in their entire life. In France? Yeah, that's kinda their thing. What churches are to the South is what boulangeries/patisseries are to France. You can't go half a mile without hitting one. And for damn good reason. French bakeries are fragments of heaven. Take any food you hate and wrap it in a croissant. It instantly will become the greatest thing you ever ate. Even the bad boulangeries are incredible. I'm staring directly at you, La Madeleine. Yeah, you. You ruin the image when you insist your staff greet everyone coming in with "Bonjour!" No self-respecting French person would ever greet a potential customer with enthusiasm.
Gee, Derek, are you a French adoptee? Should I call you Jean-Philippe? Because you're going on and on about France a lot. FINE! I'll get back to my point. Which was what again? Oh yeah. Kukis. During my trip to Korea I figured I would get gifts for people at the airport. For those of you that think this is a good idea, it's not. Don't get gifts at the airport. They have literally not one store that sells t-shirts that say "Korea" on them. No sweatshirts, no camouflaged baseball hats, and no shot glasses. The worst part about it is that the neighbourhood of Myeongdong (where you should go to get this shit) in Seoul was where I had been staying but I was too busy trying to un-fuck Han Mu's life to really explore the souvenir markets. I ended up getting really high end business card holders, those satanic metal chopsticks that I'll probably write about tomorrow, and kukis. Kukis are harmless, right? They are a fun little confection that people here in the US can appreciate. I got several different kinds and I gave most of them to my coworkers at the office. We tried all of them, and by try, I mean took one bite, spit it out in disgust and then I got to apologize for being a shitty gift giver. They were absolutely disgusting.
Which brings us to this week. The poor Korean suppliers bring with them kukis for their gift. The old saying "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" comes to mind for several of my co-workers. After the suppliers leave, everyone rushes over to the resident expert of Korean confections, this guy. I tell them that these are not the same kind of cookies, based on my expert Korean vision of looking at the fucking pictures. I claim that these might be better than the ones that I had brought back. Warily, we all open our pouches and are pretty pleased to see what looks like a chocolate coated cookie. Then we proceed to bite into the cookie. And Round 2 of spitting out the kuki proceeds. I think biting might not be the most accurate term for what we did. I think the better descriptor is we had our teeth slide into the kuki. What was inside the chocolate was this gooey, gelatinous rice concept that reminded me of rubber cement if you took away all the yummy flavour.
I was watching a video of Koreans tasting American snack foods, and it was pretty much the same response for a lot of our snacks. You should see them react to tasting pork rinds for the first time. Koreans like pork rinds as much as Texans like Korean cookies. It is odd that two cultures can have such differing opinions on what tastes good and what doesn't. I insisted on giving the Korean cookies another chance and the weirdest thing started to happen. I started enjoying it. I'm not sure if it is because I really wanted to like something that other Koreans enjoyed or if my taste buds were telling me that I'm genetically inclined to think this tastes good. Whatever the reason, these chocolate-covered rice paste cookies are pretty damn tasty now. The Sane One still thinks they taste disgusting, but she's a vegetarian, so what the hell does she know. Her preferred cookie is a raw carrot slice. Hell, knowing Koreans, that might be their version of Oreos.