You say, C’mon, let’s go out. We’re getting some meat in you.
Uhm, okay, I don’t know why I need gogi in me, but I won’t say no, I say, and we go to Baekjeong at four-thirty to avoid the crowds. There are more people there than I might have expected, and it’s quieter, no loud thumping music yet, no shouting of diners trying to make themselves heard, whether to each other or to the staff. We’re seated quickly in a corner; I ask you if we should go for pork or beef; and you say, Beef today, kinda just in the mood for beef.
We get the small combo of beef with dwen-jang-jji-gye, and I ask for a bowl of rice. I love the way Baekjeong is set up, a pan circling the grill, the pan then divided into three parts — half is filled with whisked egg, a quarter with corn cheese, the final quarter with vegetables that no one ever eats. As the grill heats, the pan heats, cooking the egg and melting the cheese, and, as the meat cooks, I run my spoon along the egg mixture, so the eggs cook soft and fluffy. We go through the egg and corn cheese quickly, and I ask for refills. A server comes to pour more of the egg mixture out of a large copper kettle.
What was with the gogi craving? I ask.
I don’t know. It’s been a while since we did this.
I have a temper, and I know it. You know it, too, just like you also know that it takes a lot for me to express it, for me to stay angry. You need a new job, you tell me, and I don’t disagree, but looking for another full-time job is a full-time job in and of itself. Is this why you said we needed gogi? I ask, and we’re halfway through our meal, maybe taking longer than the staff here would like. They keep coming by to flip our meat, to lower the heat, to set the meat alongside the very edges of the grill, so the meat won’t overcook or burn because we’re taking too long to eat, why are we being so slow, it isn’t the dinner rush yet but could we please hurry up?
It’ll be six-thirty by the time we leave because we refuse to be rushed.
These thin metal pots? I say, tapping my spoon against the pot with the jji-gye. They say they’re very like Koreans. These pots get hot really fast, and they boil water really fast, and they’re great for making ramyeon. They also cool down really fast, too, and, basically, it’s not a compliment but kind of a comment on how hot-headed and, I suppose, “emotional” Koreans can be. We’re quick to react, though maybe that also means we’re also quick to cool down … but I don’t know, Koreans are also record grudge-holders?
We’re also stupidly loyal, though, from what I’ve learned.
Yeah. But I don’t know. Korean parents are also quick to throw out their kids and disown them for being gay. So much for being obsessed with bloodlines.