Gongju’s Pepper Leaf Kimchi
So our first kimchi adventure showed you what it was like when we made Mul Kimchi. This week, we took a trip wayyy out of Seoul all the way over to Gongju, where we were going to make kimchi at a famous Kimchi Factory…BUT FORGET ABOUT THE KIMCHI MAKING!! This adventure was filled with so much craziness that the making of the kimchi didn’t matter as much as the circumstances surrounding it.
So let’s first introduce you to some things you didn’t know about Martina. She is a hard core night owl. She loves to stay up late (which adds to my suspicions of her being a vampire) and is like a stubborn child when it comes to going to bed “on time”. I have to chase her around the house, threaten to take away books, and put her in a headlock in order to pet her bangs which have turned out to be a secret weapon for putting her asleep. Because of this unquenchable desire to stay up late, she’s exhausted in the morning. And so, waking up at 6AM, after going to sleep at 4AM, isn’t going to make Martina happy.
So five of us pile into a van LOADED to the brim with camera equipment, and three of us have to share one seat space in the back of this van. Poor cranky Martina gets suckered into the middle and has nowhere to lean on the whole trip. So, while Simon and our super cool translator Ellie (is that how you spell your name? We never asked!) get to lean against the window and sleep happily, Martina has the ferocious and terrible “nod” sleep for 3 hours. You know the nods, when you’re falling asleep on a bus or subway and your head falls down to your chest and you jerk it back up quickly and periodically wake up going, ‘HUUHH!??”. Yup. That was poor sad Martina.
So after stopping for food and coffee, a little bit of life pumps through Martina’s veins. She gets excited as we arrive in the countryside and start seeing rice paddies and fields of vegetables. As we drive our huge van down a tiny dusty path, we realize we have gone the wrong way, but there is NO WAY to pull a u-turn, so we end up reversing all the way down the street (even though the driver can’t see out the back due to the pile of equipment).
We finally arrive at the “Kimchi Factory” only to find a tiny hut being held together with tape. The roof is staying down with an old sink and there is a random leather chair waiting out front. We were all shocked to see that this is the factory, but it turns out the actual factor got damage during the heavy flooding. The owner of the factory failed to tell our producers this fact. They were preeeety pissed off. So, we decided to drive up the street to a beautiful traditional style home to make the kimchi there. We arrive at the house and wait under the shade of the front door. Little did Simon know, someone decided to open up the main gate and look inside. What they didn’t know was a HUGE ANGRY Rottweiler was waiting for us. With our backs to the dog, all we hear is, “GGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” and the two of us turn around slowly to see this monster baring it’s teeth at us a few meters away. Without moving too quickly, Martina slowly reached for the gate and grabbed it shut before the dog jumped at us. 10 minutes later one of the producers strolls on past us to go in the house, but as we yell at him to STOP, he’s already in the yard holding a frozen pose. He looks at the dog, the dog looks at him, and he starts running with his knees to his chest around the house with this dog chasing him. I guess he hoped the fence, because he arrived unscathed…just not through the front gates. We named the dog “Murder Dog” afterwards, and warned people that the murder dog was there, and he would like murder anyone that strayed too close to him.
So we start to wonder why we’re waiting around for so many hours. It turns out, the kimchi factory guy doesn’t have permission to use that house, and so we’re towing a table out to the middle of the street. We finally get set up, only to see that kimchi has been pre-prepared. How can you show how to make kimchi when it’s all ready to go? He planned on showing the marinated leaves and the sauce, and just mixing them together. BAM! That’s now you make kimchi boys and girls! Did I ever tell you my secret recipe for Ranch Bibimbap?
- Step 1: take some ranch.
Step 2: take some bibimbap.
Step 3: mix.
Ranch Bibimbap, ladies and gentlemen. This guy tried to pull the same kind of recipe shenanigans for our cooking show. Balls!
So another hour goes by while we wait for him to get all of the ingredients to prepare the sauce so that people can see how this stuff is actually made. Once that’s all ready, we film the episode in the sweltering heat, where Martina got severely burned by the sun. No one warned her that we’d be outside, and so she didn’t have any sunscreen. Poor girl is still peeling to this day. Did you know how much Martina hates the sun? Could be her vampirism coming through again.
By the end of the filming, an old drunk guy walks up to us with a wrench and starts screaming that we don’t have permission to film there. Screaming. We saw spit bubbles flying from his mouth. He had a wonk eye that looked angrily at the guy he was screaming at, and a good eye looking at everyone around him. And he also had a wrench in his hand. Hell. This was not pleasant. After screaming for 10 minutes or so, he finally walks away. Not a fun way to end our filming.
We were supposed to film two episodes in Gongju, but our experience with the first episode was so bad that we didn’t bother filming the second. We just packed our stuff and left. Ah well. It made for a fun story to tell, though!
And, pffft, don’t ask for the recipe for this kimchi. It wasn’t really all too good. It was really, really salty. Uncomfortably salty. Just…just not a good kimchi to try. Our other experiences in our other episodes were great, though, and you’ll see the videos to those as well. This, though, we’d like to forget.