I was at the grocery store the other day, feeling a little uninspired about what I can make, when it dawned on me that I’ve been overlooking an entire food group. I often complain about how expensive some items are here, so how silly it was of me to forget about what is actually cheap and in abundance in Korea: seafood! Where else can you buy fresh, clean, and cut calamari for less than 2 dollars?

Calamari is sort of unfamiliar territory for me, but I thought about how wonderful it might taste with spinach and cherry tomato pasta in a garlicky white wine sauce. So I also bought a bottle Korean chardonnay, the cheapest I could find, and some greens that people here call spinach. (I found it to be a bit more bitter and rubbery than what I am used to.)

Everything was coming along quite nicely, until I realized that I didn’t have a bottle opener. No problem, I thought, there must be other ways to open a bottle of wine. But without a hammer or screwdriver, I had to resort to some of the more barbaric solutions I found through the internet. One involved banging the bottom of the bottle against the wall to increase the pressure inside, in hopes of forcing the cork to come out. I also tried holding it upside down between my knees and hitting it with the soles of my boots. Needless to say, both efforts failed. Instead, we got a warning from our landlord about excessive noise coming from our apartment. So I used the last of my lemons and it still turned out to be quite a fresh-tasting pasta salad.

I think I’ll just go buy a bottle opener because I want to make mussels in a white wine garlic butter sauce next. I also want to try some of the fish, which are often sold by ladies on busy street corners. Until now, I haven’t quite mustered up the courage to buy one, given that the only thing separating what could be my next meal from the pavement is but a thin sheet of cardboard. But I suppose I could overlook their unsanitary conditions, as well as their questionable origins, in the name of culinary adventure.

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