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Lunching at an Ancient Queen’s House

We arrived early. As I got out of the car, I could hear the monks in the Buddhist monastery next door chanting. There was bamboo growing all around the small parking lot that was almost vacant, and an almost vacant parking lot just doesn’t happen in Korea. In front of us, there were very Korean looking buildings with the magnificent green roofs that slant up so elegantly at the bottom. My daughter and son in law asked me to wait because they weren’t ready to go in yet. They wanted to go buy a birthday present for his mother. They told me to just hang out around the car until they got back, and they left. A man came out of the building in front of me and asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was waiting for family because we were going to have lunch there. He wanted to repark my car. Yes, he is Korean. Koreans who are in charge of parking lots always want to repark your car. I let him, but he didn’t really move it. He possibly made it a little straighter and closer to the car next to it, but it made no sense because they were the only two cars in the parking lot. After he gave my keys back, I left for a minute because we were close to Gyeongbuk Palace, and I saw one of those hanbok rental places I wanted to look at, so look for it in another blog. I went back to my car and got back into the car and sat in the air conditioning listening to the music. “Para Bailar la Bamba!” was playing coming from my disc. I really enjoy that song! No, I wasn’t listening to Korean music, but to Spanish music.

There was lots of bamboo growing all around the small parking lot.
There were buildings all around with those graceful oriental style roofs. Some of them were the traditional green roofs. The monastery where the monks were chanting had a green roof.
The name of the place was Dugahun.

As I sat there, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye entering the parking lot on foot. I turned around, and it was my daughter’s mother, father, and brother in law. I got out of the car, and my daughter’s mother in law gave me a hug. We were all happy to be together. I explained to them that my daughter and son in law were busy buying a gift and would join us soon. (Yes, we were speaking all in Korean because none of them can speak English.) We went on into the building in front of us. The door took us into a courtyard. They decided not to go inside just yet since my daughter and son in law weren’t there. We sat at the picnic tables outside. My daughter’s father in law decided to explain to me the significance of the restaurant. He told me that during the Joesan period of Korean history, one of his grandmother’s lived there. He said she was married to the King of Korea, and he decided to build the house for her. After a few minutes, he wanted to show me the art museum part of the restaurant.

This is as we were entering the court yard, and the metal picnic tables were behind the tree.
The door on the other side of the courtyard from the restaurant where we entered to see the art. The Hanmoon (the Chinese characters) above the door mean this is a good, strong, large house. It pays to hang out with a Hanmoon professor, my son in law’s dad.
A picture of what the house once looked like before they renovated it..
What the entrance to the whole place once looked like before they renovated it.
There were pictures of the original doors and windows in the books too. Yes, it had those famous oriental windows that used rice paper as window panes.
One of the original windows with rice paper as window panes.

We went into a door on the other side of the court. The room had no furniture at all, and it had a hard wood floor. The no furniture is normal for Korean homes. There were black and white pictures of different parts of the original home lining the walls. After that, he took us upstairs. Upstairs, there was another room with a hard wood floor where black and white pictures lined the walls again. There was a table in the center of the room and some ladies were sitting at the table. They were looking at large picture books. I learned that one of the ladies was the current owner of the establishment. They invited us to sit down and gave us bottles of water and offered us candy. We were invited to go through their picture books. The books were of the house when it was old and under renovation to what it is now, There was also a big picture book of when the current owner of the house was young and she took a trip to Spain.

Part of the screen that surrounded our table.
Another beautiful picture on the screen
We were surrounded by beautiful screens.
The screens were all beautiful.
Just in case you haven’t seen enough beautiful pictures on the screens, here is two more. These are not all the screens, but they show you the atmosphere of the place.

As we sat there looking, my daughter and son in law came in. We decided to all go back downstairs and across the courtyard to eat our lunch. They had converted the house into a restaurant. Each table was surrounded by private by screens with beautiful oriental paintings on them. They showed us behind one of the screens, we sat down, and the waitress came to take our order. My daughter and son in law decided to give his mother the gift they bought her. It was a little gold chain necklace with tiny red stones. He put it on for her, and everyone told her how pretty it was, and she was pleased. I was wearing the earrings they gave me on my birthday, so I told them they were nice to me on my birthday too and showed everyone the earrings they had given me, and everyone all admired my earrings too.

Raisin bread with olive oil with soy sauce in it to dip the bread.
We all had a small bowl of cream of broccoli soup.
We each had a salad.

We sat there having pleasant conversation waiting for our lunch. The waitress first brought us all a piece of raisin bread and a container that had olive oil and soy sauce in it to dip the bread in. She took away all the wine glasses that were on the table when we arrived because we told her we only wanted water because none of us drink. After that, she brought us all cream of broccoli soup. Before we began eating the soup, my son in law began saying, “Himm…I should know which spoon to use! Which one should I pick up first?” I said,” Pick up your napkin first and put it in your lap!” My daughter said, “Oh yes, you have taught me that, but I didn’t think of it!” They watched me for cues as to which silverware to use. My daughter’s parents in law weren’t having any trouble with which silverware to use. They knew because they prefer to eat in fancy restaurants. That is how we ended up there—at their suggestion. After the cream of broccoli soup, the waitress brought us each a salad.

We kept talking, and my daughter’s mother and father in law are very interested in the fact that we are going to go to Oklahoma. They had lots of questions about Oklahoma. My daughter’s mother in law wanted to know why we didn’t go to Dallas. My daughter let her know in no uncertain terms that Dallas was out of the question because there is too much crime in Dallas. I explained to my daughter’s mother in law that Oklahoma City is probably one of the largest cities in the world in land mass, but with one of the smallest populations. I told her that in Del City, Oklahoma, there is a Korean community, and we were trying to keep her son close to other Koreans for his own feelings of well being. My daughter’s father in law piped in and said, “Yes, and you are going to get to see Cherokee Indians!” He is very excited about us going where there are American Indians. After that, I explained to them how small the population of Oklahoma is. Some towns in Oklahoma are so small that if you want to send someone a letter, you can write their first name and the name of the town in Oklahoma, and it would get to them. My daughter’s father in law laughed and said he was sure I was right because he knew the exact population of Oklahoma, and he told us. He is a professor who reads all the time, and he has been studying Oklahoma. I then told them the joke that many Okies tell about small towns in Oklahoma. It was a bit hard to get it across, so I let my Korean son in law translate for me. You see, there are towns that are so small in Oklahoma that when you are driving down the road in a car, if you blink, you will miss it. You won’t even see the town, and Okies call those towns, “blink, and you’ll miss it towns.” That thrilled them, and everyone laughed! I teased them and told them I was going to make their son into a cowboy, and my son in law said that was right because he wants to learn to ride a horse. I told them I would make sure he could go to a rodeo and go see the Indian dances. My son in law wanted to know if I was going to teach him to Indian dance, and I told him I was sorry, but we would just go watch the Indians dance.

My pasta dish after I took the onions off
My son in law’s mother’s dish. Hers was covered with shell fish still in the shells and the red piece is a large shrimp.

Finally, our main dish arrived. We all had different kinds of pasta dishes. There was no meat in my pasta. The only meat I saw was the bacon that was in my salad. My daughter and I always tell them to leave the onions out of anything they give us because we both have this stomach problem we inherited from my mother, and onions make our stomachs hurt. There were big slices of onion laying on our pasta, so I just took mine off with my fork and put them on the bread plate. My daughter just sat there staring at her plate saying, “I didn’t know there would be onions! Are those really onion?” I told her not to worry and showed her what I did with my onions, and she did the same. We ate the pasta.

We are in Korea. If there is no kimchee on the table, there must be pickles. The long green thing is a jalapeno pepper. My son in law’s brother ate the pickles.
A small cream puff with a couple of of almonds for desert
They brought us all a cup of green tea to drink after eating each of us a cream puff.

After we ate the pasta, the waitress gathered the plates up. Next, she brought us each a cream puff and two almonds. By the time we were done with the cream puffs, she brought us each a cup of green tea, no sugar. I wasn’t paying, so I had no idea how much this lunch cost, but it seemed like a rather light lunch, but it wasn’t a bad lunch. It was good.

After lunch, I noticed in the court yard that there was another part of the restaurant that wasn’t quite so private. They all sat in the dining room together.

After lunch, we went into the courtyard and stood and talked a little more, then decided it was time to go on home. When we got to the parking lot, my daughter’s mother in law wanted us to take a walk with them, but my daughter declined. She said she had already had her walk when she went looking for the gift, and she just wasn’t ready for another walk. She has a bit of a cold and wanted to go home and sleep. We got into my car, and my son in law’s brother decided to come with us, and his parents took off on foot. Everyone except me went to sleep in the car, and I was wishing I could sleep. I didn’t know why my son in law’s brother came with us but eventually, he left us and got in the subway. He was on his way to work and just rode with us to get closer to his work. We had a pleasant lunch with my daughter’s in laws in a house that used to belong to a queen many, many years ago who was part of their family.

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