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Yesterday my school and I went to Paju to make some tofu and pick some sweet potatoes. It took about an hour to get there. Paju is located in Gyeonggi-do, very close to the North Korean border. When we got to Paju, the streets were heavily fortified with traffic control devices that make drivers weave in and out between them. My guess is that this is to prevent any North Korean defectors from making a quick escape to the South. There were guards with huge machine guns strapped to their backs. We had to present our foreigner registration cards, and everyone had to have positive ID on them to cross into Paju. I always get nervous in situations like this, although I haven’t broke any laws in Korea since I arrived here, except maybe J-walking. I always expect them to drag me out of the car and arrest me.

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The kids got to grind up soybeans using these oldschool grinding stones. Frothy cud-looking stuff came from the sides of the stones, which I guess is the base of tofu. Then they add water and put it in a big bowl, and add in some kind of water, which causes the bean to separate from the watery stuff. After a few minutes, the soft tofu settles to the bottom of the bowl. They then take the sludge and put it in a box lined with cheesecloth, which they then press.

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The more pressed it is, the harder the tofu. Tofu ranges from hard and chewy to soft and soup-like. We had the soup-like kind for lunch, which is called 두부 지개, which means tofu stew. We also had old fermented-type tofu, with a strong pepper sauce. It was delicious. I love tofu. I wish Canada would embrace tofu like the asians have. It’s so easy to work with, easy to digest, and it’s very versatile. Tofu here is also really cheap, compared to Canada.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when I go back to Canada. I know I will definitely bring some seaweed with me, and maybe a bit of kimchi if I have room. I will make kimbap and maybe kimchi fried rice for my family. I wish I could have my family come to Korea, if not for the sights and culture, only for the food. I know they’d love the glass noodles, the fermented vegetables, and the huge range of rice dishes. It sure beats a slice of pizza and a pop, but there are times where I’d give all the kimchi in the world for a slice of Mossimo’s in Welland.

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