Korean Valentine’s for the sad and lonely: eat black bean noodles

posted by Daphne February 13, 2017
Jajangmyeon by KFoodaddict / Wikimedia Commons

It’s Valentine’s Day! For many that’s cause for excitement, for others it’s a day of disappointment. Frank and I don’t really celebrate it, because love shouldn’t be limited to one day a y…  just kidding, I just don’t give a shit. I used to give a shit as a young teenager, and it wasn’t a happy day when I watched the popular girls get roses from secret admirers every year and I never got anything. It’s fine. It’s fine.

But even for all the single people out there dreading Valentine’s Day, it could be worse. At least over here it’s only one day. Not so in Japan, where Valentine’s Day is split into two days: on February 14, women give chocolate to men – giri choco (obligation chocolate) for acquaintances, friends and co-workers, honmei choco (true feeling chocolate) for their true Valentine. Guys don’t have to give anything yet, because they’ll return the favour one month later on White Day.

12 Valentine’s Days a year

The same happens in Korea, only they take it even further – every 14th of the month is a kind of Valentine’s day:

  • January: Diary Day/Candle Day – give friends and family blank diaries.
  • February: Valentine’s Day – girls give chocolate to boys.
  • March: White Day – boys give chocolate/sweets to girls.
  • April: Black Day – be sad and miserable.
  • May: Yellow Day/Rose Day.
  • June: Kiss Day.
  • July: Silver Day – exchange silver rings and discuss future marriage plans.
  • August: Green Day – drink soju (it’s like a rice vodka).
  • September: Photo day/Music Day.
  • October: Wine Day.
  • November: Movie Day.
  • December: Hug Day.

Wow, being a couple in Korea is hard work. Unsurprisingly, several of those involve drinking. Black Day is interesting in particular: after an unsuccessful Valentine’s Day and White Day, single people go and eat away their sorrows. And one comfort food in particular: jajangmyeon.

Jajangmyeon: black bean sauce noodles

Jajangmyeon by KFoodaddict / Wikimedia Commons

Jajangmyeon by KFoodaddict / Wikimedia Commons

Just like Americans have American Chinese food, Koreans have Korean Chinese food that’s mainly based on Northern Chinese food from Beijing and Shandong. Jajangmyeon – black bean noodles – is the go-to dish for singles to eat on Black Day. It’s like eating Ben & Jerry’s straight out of the tub, except it involves more black fermented stuff and less chunky monkeys.

If you’re still single in two months, go ahead and make April 14 a delicious day with a comforting bowl of jajangmyeon:

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