Have you ever had one of those days when out of the blue, you learned something that left you wondering how you had never encountered that information in your life before? Well, I just had one of those moments. I have to say, modern technology is an amazing thing. I have learned so much more about the world in the last few years than I ever dreamed possible, thanks to the simple expedient of being able to translate foreign languages with the help of online tools and internationally localised input tools in the devices I use.
Earlier tonight, a friend of mine posted something on Facebook about the beautiful crocks that are the standard packaging for Tianjin Preserved Vegetable, a type of Chinese salt-preserved cabbage of which I had never heard, but which sounds utterly delicious. In researching further information about it, I came across a mail-order site in the UK called “Sous Chef”, and started browsing. This got me thinking about Japanese tableware, which is a bit of a hobby of mine. I have always been attracted the the Japanese design aesthetic, and I’m always on the lookout for new pieces to add to my collection.
Suddenly, I remembered that I had never tried to look up the information about the chopsticks I bought nearly two years ago, which I posted here. I’d been looking for some good stainless steel chopsticks to complement my backpacking gear, when to my surprise, I found a pack of five pair for only $4 at my local Asian grocery store. I recognised that the script on the package was Korean, but other than that, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of the writing. After purchasing them, I started to think they might be aluminium, because they are so light. As it turns out, they are hollow stainless steel.
So, pulling out my iPhone, and grabbing the Tumblr archive to look up my old post, I was able to add a Korean input keyboard, search Google, and copy the input to Google Translate as well. Apparently, the chopsticks are made by Young Poong, and they are definitely stainless steel. In fact, the text reads, “Young Poong Stainless Steel Chopsticks”. Mystery solved, and now you can buy them yourself by name.
However, in the course of looking up “young poong”, I came across an interesting site that is a travelogue of two women visiting Korea, and Google captured the following phrase: “Koreans don’t use chopsticks to eat their rice but uses the spoon instead.”
Interesting! I did not know that. But then I thought, but what kind of spoon do they use? Do they use a Chinese style spoon? So, I searched for “korean spoon”, and the results blew my mind! Apparently, in Korea, they use a long-handled spoon the same length as the chopsticks. I also learned along the way that stainless steel chopsticks are quite popular in Korea, something I also didn’t know before.
That quick Google search turned up all sorts of pictures of really beautiful Korean chopstick and spoon sets like the one pictured here, as well as other Korean tablewares that I would *love* to add to my collection.
I’m just totally blown away by the fact that I did not know about this aspect of Korean culture, and even more excited that I was able to use these tools and input Hangul to my iPhone so quickly and understand all of this. Very cool stuff. I can’t wait to buy a few sets!
What I find strange, though, is that I’ve eaten in Korean restaurants before, but never seen sets like this, nor have I ever seen them for sale in retail stores. Isn’t that odd?
Such a little thing, but so exciting to me, tonight!