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18 Mar

Chez Hominid – This is an unusually timely entry for me, but I figured I’d write it while the memory was still fresh in my mind (and palate). Last night, my wife and I traveled into Seoul to visit the Big Hominid for dinner at his place. Now, I know that some people would call what is about to follow a “food blog,” but we all know that I do not use the b-word to describe anything here at Liminality. And if I’m not going to call it a blog, then I can’t very well use such a pedestrian word as “food,” can I? I think I’ll call it an “epicurean journal,” which has just the right amount of pretension but is not quite as unwieldy as, say, “an Account of the Adventures of Three Brave Souls into a Feast of Rich and Scrumptious Food.” (I should also warn you that there’s a bit of a Liminality-related tangent at the end, but what did you expect?)

“ Account of the Adventures of Three Brave Souls into a Feast of Rich and Scrumptious Food.”

When we approached the Hominid’s lair, we were greeted by the aroma of butter and garlic (much different from the aroma of garlic that greets morning passengers on the Seoul subway). Kevin was finishing up his preparations for dinner, and we began the evening with an appetizer of batter-fried chicken with vegetables.

The appetizer

The garlic bread in the foreground wasn’t originally intended to be part of the appetizer, but it ended up that way—after all, who can resist garlic bread? You can’t very well be putting garlic bread in front of me and then expect me not to eat it.

Kevin was somewhat dismayed at the way the battered chicken came out (the batter didn’t do a very good job of staying on the chicken when fried), but it still tasted quite good. The orange dipping sauce is mayonnaise and Thai chili sauce, and it was a tasty match with the chicken and vegetables.

A close-up of the appetizer

This is one of the pieces of chicken up close, intended to be an example of how the batter didn’t stick to the chicken, but it looks fine to me. In fact, it looks quite tasty. Having played the role of cook myself on many occasions, I can understand how Kevin might be critical of the result, but, to be honest, it tasted good, and that’s all we cared about.

Once we were finished with the appetizer, the main attraction began. I say “main attraction” rather than “main course” because our shrimp fettuccine alfredo was prepared at the table right before our eyes, sort of like Benihana, but without people being slain by flying shrimp.

Alfredo: step 1

Here, Kevin is pouring heavy cream into the noodles and butter (That’s the butter there being doused in cream... mmm, butter doused in cream). See that carton of cream? We finished off the whole thing.

Alfredo: step 2

Next was some pre-grated parmesan cheese. See that bag? We finished off that, too.

Alfredo: step 3

After the parmesan came some white cheddar, cut into nice, hefty chunks for good melting. Here, Kevin is caught in the act of “kicking it up a notch.” (Yeah, we were pretty terrified, too.)

Alfredo: step 4

This is where it all came together. Kevin used plastic utensils to mix the ingredients, because we all know that metal utensils would scratch the coating on the pan—and Kevin would never do that.

It was also at this time that we were introduced to Kevin’s third arm, which emerges from somewhere around his left hip and spends most of its time in his pants pocket, but is here holding the pan steady while his other two hands do the mixing.

The finished alfredo

And this is the finished product, with the shrimp sauteed in garlic, butter, and herbs stirred into the noodles. It’s really hard to make photographs of noodles look good, especially when said photographs are taken with a flash in poor lighting. You also can’t smell or taste the noodles, which means you’re left with a static, non-interactive representation of reality. And let me tell you, the reality was all sorts of delicious. Mmm... I can still remember the smell, and the rich, creamy, cheesy taste.

Kevin mentioned that his alfredo is popular with guests, and I can see why. It was sinfully good. He mentioned a number of times that it wasn’t going to be Puccini (a classy Italian restaurant in Gangnam), but I have to say that it holds up pretty well. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about cooking, it is that the surest way to bad food is to be stingy with the ingredients. As you can see from the photos, Kevin is anything but stingy.

The salad

In true Continental fashion, the rich pasta dish was followed by a salad that included tuna, cheese, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, quail’s eggs, and other tasty ingredients. It was very good, especially with a tangy dressing, but what you see missing from the plate here is all we managed to fit in, as we were saving room for what came next (drum roll, please).

Nigella’s chocolate mousse

This chocolate mousse is from a recipe by Nigella Lawson, and after seeing Kevin blog about it back in January, I knew I had to try it someday. Kevin warned us repeatedly that it was very sweet and rich, probably in an attempt at reverse psychology—i.e., if we expected something so sweet and rich that our eyeballs would implode, then we might be prepared for the mousse.

Well, it worked. The mousse was rich and sweet, but no eyeballs imploded. It helped that the cream was not sweetened, and also that we decided to make tea halfway through. Still, the mousse was very tasty, and if I hadn’t known that it was made with marshmallows, I would have had a hard time guessing. Hyunjin didn’t know, and she wasn’t able to guess (although she did guess gelatin, which is in the right direction). Unfortunately, I was so stuffed by the time we got to the mousse that I was only able to eat half of it. Looking at the photo of it now is torture, because I so want to eat the rest. Of course, I don’t feel like I just swallowed a house right now, either.

The whole process of eating dinner and dessert took over three hours. I don’t remember exactly what time we started eating, but it was sometime shortly after seven, and it was nearly eleven when we finally spied the clock. Of course, we weren’t stuffing our faces the whole time, and we engaged in some very interesting conversation, half in Korean and half in English. The Korean was a concession to Hyunjin, who appreciated the fact that she could speak Korean and be understood by everyone present. Kevin is much more proficient at switching back and forth between English and Korean than I am. I’m used to speaking Korean pretty much all the time, but I can switch gears into English when the occasion requires it. I can also distinguish between Korean-speakers and English-speakers (that is, by speaking the appropriate language to each), but going back and forth between Korean and English in the same sentence confuses me. Kevin, though, has mastered this skill.

At some point during the evening, we ended up talking about our respective sites, and the subject of the Workshop came up. I asked Kevin if he had read my latest piece, and he said no. Then I was horrified to discover that Kevin apparently still lives in the Stone Age and does not subscribe to my RSS feed. Even my mom subscribes to my feed (Just kidding, Mom—we all know you’re one computer savvy lady). The subject of feeds only came up because I decided to put my latest Workshop piece in the main Liminality feed. But since he doesn’t subscribe to the feed, the only sign he has that there’s a new Workshop piece ready is the DOWN, and we know that no one pays attention to that.

Then he asked me what happens to the current piece once a new piece goes up. Well, what happens is that the old piece gets overwritten with the new piece. The old pieces still exist on my hard drive, of course, but they no longer exist on the net (well, except for the Google cache, maybe). So he asked me why I couldn’t keep a bunch of pieces up at the Workshop rather than wiping them out, never to be seen again. This would allow primitive readers like himself a chance to read old pieces that would normally get wiped out.

It’s a frightening idea, really. I argued that the Workshop is not set up to take multiple pages, but that’s not really true. Anyone who read my NaNoWriMo novel from last year will know that I can have a bunch of pages up at the same time. That required a tweaking of the code, and the result is that the Workshop now does have the required functionality.

But what makes the idea frightening is that keeping things up at the Workshop would require me to take responsibility for them. I must admit that I rather like the way things are set up now. I can post whatever crap comes to mind, secure in the knowledge that it will be wiped out when the next pile of crap comes along. Not that I have a problem with posting crap (as should be evident by now), but knowing that it will soon be consigned to my hard drive, most likely never to be seen again, is quite liberating. If I were to have a bunch of “works in progress” up there, though, they would actually have to be—gasp—in progress. In a word, I would no longer be able to ignore the illegitimate offspring of my imagination and entertain the convenient fantasy that they never existed—I would have to actually do something about them.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the idea since last night. It’s irking me like, as Morpheus would say, a splinter in my mind. But the ball is now rolling, and I know it’s not going to stop until it’s flattened me like a pancake and picked up the clutter of my brain like some freakish Katamari Damacy game gone terribly wrong. So I don’t know when this is going to happen, but chances are fairly good that the Workshop is going to become something more than what it is now. Unless I wake up tomorrow and come to my senses, that is.

OK, tangent over. I just had to get that out and, by proclaiming it publicly, back myself into a corner with only one escape route. I want to thank Kevin for his hospitality and the lovely dinner. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, in both the gustatory and intellectual senses. And writing this entry was fun, too. I don’t think I’ve ever written an entry quite like this, but I’m glad I did. Maybe I’ll even do it again sometime.

Update (7 Apr): Since writing this entry, I have been giving a lot of thought to reworking the Workshop. The truth is that I gave a lot of thought to how I was going to do the Workshop the first time around, when I first built it. I agonized over whether or not to have an archives, whether or not to have more than one story available at one time. And I had very good reasons for doing things the way I ended up doing them. I won’t go into them here, because I discussed them in detail in the past, but suffice it to say that it is liberating to know that these bits of writing will come and go.

I mentioned above that having a bunch of works-in-progress online would motivate me to actually complete or work on them. I have realized that this is probably not what would happen. Why did I create the DOWN? Mainly, it was to appease the two people who actually read the Workshop by giving them a visible indicator when new content was available. But I also reasoned that displaying the number of hours since the last new content was posted (hover over the blue box to see what I mean) would shame me into posting more often. I have since come to a sobering realization: I have no shame. At this very moment, it has been 528 hours and 5 minutes since the last Workshop content was posted. How much shame do I feel because of this? Not an iota. In fact, it strikes me as rather funny.

So that whole justification for reworking the Workshop just lost any legs it might have had to stand on. Ultimately, if I were to rework the Workshop, I would be doing it for my readers, not for me. This may lose me some points with those two readers, but I’m not going to make any more changes to the Workshop solely for the sake of my readers. However, I am not a completely heartless lump of coal. As I mentioned above, it is now possible for the Workshop to have multiple pages available at one time (accessible through a main page that links to these individual pages). In the future, if I post a multiple-part work, I will do it this way: with a front page linking to each page as it appears. After the work is finished and a new work starts, though, it will disappear.

I had grandiose schemes in my head after first writing this entry, but I have ultimately decided that the Workshop is going to stay as is. Sorry to any who got their hopes up. At least I’ll be keeping all parts of multiple-part works accessible, right?

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