Sunday, October 17, 2010

Welcome to Itaewom!

Dear "Itaewon Special Tourist Zone Association",

Itaewon Global Festival

I am writing to thank you for the lovely Global Village Festival you held this weekend. I'd seen the banners up, but thanks to a lack of dates on the aforementioned hanging advertisements I was unaware that we were celebrating today. Fortunately, I was wandering around the neighbourhood and stumbled upon the festivities. What a lovely thing to do on a sunny Sunday!

Itaewon Global Festival

I was handed a beautifully designed pamphlet, but to be honest I think there may have been a slight error. As far as I was aware we weren't all living in Itaewom. Is this new name change government approved? Should I inform to send my parcels to Itaewom? If it's on a pamphlet like this then it must be correct, as only the foolish and the insane would not bother to proofread anything destined for the public.

Itaewon Global Festival

It was great to have a selection of tents out celebrating cuisine from around the world. The Pizza Peel were doing a fantastic job representing Italy, Tartine had a selection of baked goods available and there were some delicious looking Turkish, Indian, Brazilian and Pakistani treats on offer.

Itaewon Global Festival

I was thrilled to see that Michot (the tiny bakery up the hill from OKitchen 2) were hand filling gorgeous looking eclairs...

Itaewon Global Festival

And I was charmed by Iran's choice of signage and design of hookah. There was a wonderful bustling, happy atmosphere around the food tents and it made me proud to be a resident of this fine dong.

However, there was a slight problem.

Itaewon Global Festival

You see, I'm British and the sight of our nation's glorious Union Jack hanging above one of the tents filled me with patriotic pride. A taste of the mother country! A chance for a sausage roll, some fish and chips or perhaps a chelsea bun!

Itaewon Global Festival

However, a quick look at the menu revealed a rather different state of affairs. I have to warn you, "Itaewon Special Tourist Zone Association", that the next few sentences may contain some bad language. So, please cover your eyes if you easily take offense.

Americano, Iced Americano, Iced Tea (peach Assame?) and Fresh Lemonade. I'd say one out of three might fit the bill, Americanos and Peach Iced Tea are usually claimed by our ex-colonial cousins.

Provence Vegetable soup and Cream of Mushroom soup. Cream of Mushroom may vaguely whiff of the Empire, but Provence? Really? Provence qualifies as British now? I know we have the European Union and all, but I feel that France might get a little miffed if I went round claiming Provence as one of the home counties.

Cookie, Scone, Waffle (with whipped cream), Ham & Cheese Croissant. One out of four. Send your waffles back to Brussels and your croissants back to Paris; we'll keep the scones, but cookies? Fuck off or give me biscuits!

Cup and Bowl ran this "British Stall" and the staff member on duty even admitted that they had been assigned the nationality without good reason. Why put the British stamp on something so obviously not from the UK? Don't put a nation's flag where it doesn't belong. Don't try passing off some rather dodgy looking croissants as British, give them the French flag and have done with it.

"Itaewon Special Tourist Zone Association", I really appreciate you putting on this Global Village Festival, but why not make the effort to make sure you're going to represent your countries properly.

If at a Global Village Festival in London, the Korean stall had been serving Shanghai dumplings and Osaka style Okonomiyaki, Korean visitors might have been a little bit peeved. Guess what? The same thing happens when you represent the UK with croissants and cookies.

Itaewon Global Festival

To top it all off the scones were made with figs and pecans. Pecans? Pecans? You're so much better than this "Itaewon Special Tourist Zone Association"...

I'm sorry, I've ranted a little too much. I've hurt your feelings. Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy to have a Global Village Festival here. It's a great idea to bring foreign and Korean communities together. I felt proud to be a resident of Itaewon today and I really hope that you'll keep making festivals for us.

The only thing I ask is that you take a moment to proofread your publicity, clearly advertise when and where the event may happen, and give appropriate flags to food stalls selling items that represent that country's cuisine.

I love Itaewon, I love the clash of cultures and the mix of nationalities you can meet here. I loved speaking with foreigners and Koreans on the street today and I loved the atmosphere of this event. I'll tell you one thing, "Itaewon Special Tourist Zone Association", there was one stall in particular that captured my heart...

Itaewon Global Festival

The South African tent was the star this year with their beautiful Boerewors sausages.

Itaewon Global Festival

Handmade today, these spiraling sausagey shapes of joy smelled and tasted divine. The perfect festival food served up by a bunch of friendly chaps who know how to barbecue a good banger.

Hats off to those fine fellows.

In conclusion, "Itaewon Special Tourist Zone Association", I want to thank you for the lovely afternoon out and I hope you'll put on another festival next year. Maybe give Gavin (from Gavin's Sausages) a call, I'm sure if you ask him nicely he'll show you how to make a stall feel like it's representing the UK...

Lots of love,

Paul Ajosshi

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