Sometime in the summer of 1995, deep in monsoon stickiness. In my passable restaurant Korean, I order a bowl of patbingsu* (literally red bean and ice, but condensed milk and pieces of fruit, rice cake and gummies have been poured on top of the mound of shaved ice and red beans). My friend and I took up our spoons, ready to scoop up a bit of red bean and ice, or maybe just a strawberry, when the waitress swoops down upon our table. “No no, you mix it like this,” she rolled her eyes at the know-nothing Korean Americans. And staring at the muddled, monochromatic slush left in our bowl, we vowed to never let someone mix our patbingsu again. (gaze at sky-and-cloud mural painted on ceiling, shake fist).
[image courtesy of Serious Eats]
*I have confirmed, recently, and to my dismay, that all the bean-and-shaved-ice concoctions of the Pacific Rim can be traced to Japan.