Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Birthday Present

It was my birthday on Friday but due to a misunderstanding Korean Mother brought round cake Wednesday evening, believing it to be the next day. While a few birthday cakes are sold back home, I'm under the impression that they are a much more serious affair in Korea - where almost every bakery seems to sell a wide variety due to constant demand. That said, the cake brought to us was a typical example - featuring lots of fresh cream and an improbable amount of fruit loaded onto the top - complete with plastic cutting knife, matches and candles bearing the message 'Happy Birthyday' (you read that right). While all cakes are freshly made, Korean Mother asked if the store would bake one there and then because it was her son-in-law's first birthday in Korea. Surprisingly they complied (although it only took about six minutes) and even more surprisingly they gave her a discount as well. Fearing the cream would go off, we had to start eating the cake on Thursday.

On Friday we went out to the popular Korean, Australian-themed but American owned 'Outback Steakhouse' where, due to my need to maintain a low-sodium diet, I regularly chance my luck with their over-salted menu. Still, you can't go far wrong with a chicken salad, although the accompanying jacket potato was a different matter. Evidently one of our party informed the waitress that it was my birthday, so when dessert arrived it was complete with a candle and she was armed with a hat and camera to take a commemorative photo.

Fortunately I somehow managed to avoid the usual ordeal of having three teenage waitresses come over and sing to me for the occasion, or maybe that's something that another chain, VIPs, tends to do. I know that Outback, VIPs and Bennigans all have their unique points, but whereas back home they would have seemed different, I guess I've been in Korea long enough to just see them as somewhat blandly-interchangeable Western-style diners.

We finished off the rest of the cake in the evening and whether it was that, the marshmallow ice cream dessert, the salad or the sour cream soaked potato, I spent a significant part of Saturday morning being sick in the bathroom, and there hadn't even been any soju involved.

Korean tags: 생일, 케이크, 음식, 레스토랑


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday.

Another Korean birthday tradition is to stick the cake on top of the box it came in as a platform.

Mike said...

Thanks - I guess I missed that tradition.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! Your blog is absolutely fascinating. I'm especially interested in the foods you've eaten.

Mike said...

Thanks MS, I've realised that I don't really talk about food here very much - maybe that's something I should get around to writing more about.

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