I didn't get to go see Captain America tonight. I wanted to. It opened yesterday in Korea. I had private lessons last night after work, so that wasn't an option. Tonight, no privates. I said to my wife, "Let's go!"
She told me we couldn't. Her in-laws were making samgyetang, a rice and chicken stew. There are certain times during the summer when Koreans are supposed to eat it "for health." So we went, and ate. It was good. I'd still rather have gone to see the movie, though.
Anyway, my week of summer vacation from the kindergarten starts this evening. We've got plenty of time to go see Cap. Also, my father-in-law wants to go hiking and eat boshintang. I'm not sure I want to. I had boshintang once before, the day before my wedding. My buddy Atley came to Korea with us for the wedding (we all lived in Japan at the time, he was a member of the Yamanashi group) and wanted to try it. I thought, hey, it's an experience. So we went. We ate. It wasn't bad tasting. But it's not something I ever felt like eating again.
Boshintang is dog meat stew. And supposedly it's a magical curative for "men's health." My in-laws are hoping for another grandchild and they think if I eat it I'll be firing magic bullets of love and paternity. Or something like that.
Anyway, Korea's got plenty of food superstitions or general strange beliefs that could be mined for interesting details to use in an RPG or fantasy novel. A lot of them are simple sympathetic magic. Like eating eel is good for "men's health" because, you know, eels are long and tubular and so are men's... Well, you know.
Others, though, are a bit less easy to figure out. Like tonight's samgyetang. You're supposed to eat it piping hot on the 'hottest days' (set by some almanac or geomancy or something, it wasn't that hot today or the day we ate it last week either). Fighting fire with fire is more or less the logic behind this one. Make yourself hot on the hot day and you'll be fine the rest of the summer.
Anyway, I ought to ply my wife for more of these Korean eating superstitions. I'm sure I don't know the half of them. But here's a cool one, especially for anyone using Vampires heavily in their games:
If Korean men can catch a deer alive (as my friend Ahna's uncle did in his company's factory building one day), the men subdue the animal, cut a small incision in the upper neck, and drink the deer's blood. Again, it's supposed to impart vitality and good health. And again, not something I think I'd want to try myself.