Sunday, November 22, 2009

Casting the die down the coast

I played another aleatoric photographic game this past weekend. This time the rules were simple: drive in one direction (south), and roll a die to see how far you drive before stopping to make a photograph (each dot on the die stands for 3km). The element of chance defines the points of stillness carved out from the trajectory where light is recorded.

Lindsey and I rented a car and winded our way through the long narrow valley down the mountain, and then down the east coast with the ocean to our left. We drove through squid towns, where squid lined the sides of the road like fences, their drying bodies being hung up by the elderly and covering countless rows of metal bars. Squid was hanging on rooftops and on drying racks originally intended for the drying of clothes, and the sun was glinting through transluscent squid flesh so it appeared luminescent. We drove through crab towns, where restaurant after restaurant served nothing but crab, where overflowing aquarium tanks were bulging full of large crabs with their spiky bodies trapped together like jigsaw puzzles, and where restaurant owners physically jumped out in front of our car and shouted at us while gesturing with their white gloves to pull into their parking garages to eat their overpriced crabs. There was a crab bridge and crab cartoon mascots on the light posts and a small harbor side park with crab benches and crab statues.

We stopped for Chinese food and their kimchi tasted like apricots.

We drove inland, and got stuck in Daegu because cities aren't in grids here and roads align themselves devoutly on Nietzsche's writings on the concept of eternal return.

We stayed at a love motel in Changpyeong next to a freshly sliced half-mountain and a road that was less than 20 ft long and led to mounds of dirt and heavy machinery at it's unfinished end up a hill. The town seemed dreary and incomplete and slightly unwelcoming. All of the motel options had parking areas without lights and seemed set up for illicit transactions of money to occur within the rooms. We ate at a small gimbap restaurant where they gave me a plate of rice covered with ketchup. They asked me if it was delicious as we were leaving. When it became day again in the morning the town didn't look that bad. It was just the darkness and being lost for two hours in Daegu and hunger and fatigue that mostly led to our bad impression of the place.

Our final destination was the largest swamp in Korea. It seemed like we were spotted driving in, and the director appeared in the parking lot by the side of our car before we even had time to step outside(they don't see too many foreigners apparently). He gave us a short private guided tour of the wetlands information museum. He was a really nice person and showed us a TPR (total physical response) dance move for how we should remember that a wetland is classified as a large body of water less than 6 meters in depth. He showed us another dance move for remembering how the four seasons are "absolutely...DIFFERENT!" They gave us some malfuntioning 3D glasses and were told to watch a wetlands animation which was mostly incomprehensible because it was all in Korean without subtitles.

I noticed the water in the small fountain there was thinly iced over, and I could shatter it with my knuckle and watch beautiful formations of shadows develop underneath it across the dirty sky blue tiles as the light shined across the edges of the cracks I made in the ice.

The place was peaceful and there were large amounts of ducks and snowy white egrets and magpies and other migrating birds hanging out.

We ate a sweet and spicy Prussian carp stew that had the very slightly sour and tangy flavor of lemon grass. I'm not sure if it actually was lemon grass or just some fresh mountain herb they collected in the area, but it was delicious and reminded me of the flavors of Vietnamese food, which is awesome because Korean food never has those flavors. They threw in two whole fish (who were moments ago swimming around in an aquarium tank), heads and all, in the stew pan which was set on a portable butane burner in front of us on the table, which boiled with the broth and the onions and radish chunks and the greens, so the sharp tiny bones spread profusely throughout and gouged the roof of my mouth frequently and one got stuck in Lindsey's throat for maybe half the meal. I think there's something to be said for food that is dangerous, or food that you have to work for. But I could've handled the absence of those needle-like bones.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a note....I think it was Ronald Reagan whose favorite dish was cottage cheese with ketchup on it. Somewhat like on your rice.

Why not take pictures of your meals along with the explanations.