merisound

밥 먹었어요? Did You Eat?

Food is an important part of Korean culture and I mean it is IMPORTANT. Eating and drinking together is a popular, much embraced activity and it is essential to eat well. Especially in the past people used to greet one another with the phrase 밥 먹었어요? (bap meogeoseoyo) - Did you eat? The phrase became common after the war when the country suffered from shortage of food. This simple question became a way of showing care for others wellbeing. 

A friend of mine also shared the story of 라면 (ramen) - the very same kind of instant noodles that are also very popular among students in Europe. Again after war there was not enough rice available to feed eveyone. According to the story, the head of the country at that time stated "No citizen shall be hungry" and introduced a more affordable meal, 라면, to Koreans. Nowadays it is a popular snack and lighter meal. 

Today there is plenty of food in Korea. If you like food, Korea is like a heaven on earth for you. Eating well is appreciated and the meals are delicious. Introducing all the typical dishes would require a book of their own but here are some of my favorites among the ones that I have had during my stay here.

비빔밥| Bibimbap

According to the meaning of the name bibimbap -  "mixed rice" - is various vegetables mixed with warm rice and often (but not always) some meat; bulgogi, tuna or pork for example. It is very typical to have an egg on top of the portion. 

University café version of bulgogi bibimbap. The rice is served separately so students can mix the dish themselves. Normally bibimbap has an egg on top but it is very tasty even without one!  

University café version of bulgogi bibimbap. The rice is served separately so students can mix the dish themselves. Normally bibimbap has an egg on top but it is very tasty even without one!  

Warm "hot pot" version of bibimbap can look like this for example. This one has even some cheese in the mix. Yam! 

Warm "hot pot" version of bibimbap can look like this for example. This one has even some cheese in the mix. Yam! 

비빔 국수 | Bibim Guksu

Like Bibimbap, Bibim Guksu is a dish with plenty of fresh veggies but instead of rice it is based on homemade cold noodles. Mix and enjoy! 

As you may notice, Korean dishes are often served with small side dishes - normally with kimchi, pickled radish and small warm soup. 

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내명 | Naengmyeon

Another popular noodle dish is naengmyeon, cold noodles. This refreshing combination tastes especially good during the hot summer weather. 

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김밥 | Gimbap

Looks a little like Japanese sushi, but tastes very different. Veggies, possibly some meat and/or cheese and naturally some rice rolled inside seaweed. Gimbap is a typical side dish but I do consider it a good lighter meal on its own. 

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치킨 | Chicken 

Chicken is a popular dish to enjoy with friends. To have "chicken and beer" is a combo that you see pretty much everywhere in Seoul. Some of the dishes are more spicy than others and there are several ways to tune your chicken. Normally the portions are big and meant to be shared. 

Chicken and beer with friends. 

Chicken and beer with friends. 

Another smaller (and spicier) but ah so delicious chicken dish! With cheese, of course. 

Another smaller (and spicier) but ah so delicious chicken dish! With cheese, of course. 

고기구이 | Korean BBQ

A friend of mine brought me to probably one of the best Korean BBQ places in the city. Not all the bbq places are as fancy as this one, but the principle is the same - you (or depending on the place the waiter) grills meat - beef or pork - that you then eat with different side dishes. Typical thing to do is to dip small pieces of meat to salt and/or to different sauces and wrap it in a piece of lettuce. So delicious! And low carb, haha. ;)

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회 | Raw Fish

This must have been one of the most random evenings for quite a while. I have never really tough that raw fish would be something to go with drinking but obviously it is considered a legit dish to enjoy with some soju or rasberry wine. Works surprisingly well! Even at 3am. 

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Other stuff

As you may notice, many of the typical Korean foods are based on or include meat. It can be pretty challenging to be a strict vegetarian or vegan in here. Anyhow, surprisingly many dishes can be found or ordered also without meat. And since Seoul is a big international city, you will find all kinds of foods and restaurants here - like this fully vegan satay noodle sallad we enjoyed in Itaewon one Sunday.  I know - it is kinda easy to get spoiled in this city. ^^

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커피 | Coffee Moments 

Good coffee is everywhere here. And I mean EVERYWHERE. Approximately every other person you see on the street carries an ice americano 아이스 아메리카노  in their hands. There are very affordable coffee shops but sometimes people pay as much (or more) for their coffee as for their lunch (4000-6000won ~ 3,5 - 5,5€). Which is kinda crazy. But as a coffee addict myself, who am I to blame. 

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Ice flakes is a popular dessert - this one was served with some mango and ice cream on top.

Ice flakes is a popular dessert - this one was served with some mango and ice cream on top.

Surprises

Then, of course, there is always the stuff that you never saw coming. Like this tiny cute dessert we received at a traditional Korean restaurant. I will just leave it here.

Like what the actual...? If anyone of you knows where these came from, let me know! 

Like what the actual...? If anyone of you knows where these came from, let me know! 

Yours,

Meri

Northern Oddity. Wildwood Vagabonds.

Ivana Moomin Senja Dress | Photo: Cindy Phong

Ivana Moomin Senja Dress | Photo: Cindy Phong

Ivana Helsinki has the incredible way of combining fashion and lifestyle with art and stories. Their world is a holistic experience and I feel like I am carrying that world with me when pulling on one of their dresses. 

Every item has a story. Moomin Senja dress takes you into the freedom of imagination that Moomin creator Tove Jansson and Ivana Helsinki designer Paola Suhonen share. The dress is named after Paola's mother. The Herbario purse print is based on the flowers Paola gathered for her school work on eighth grade. 

Ivana Helsinki Herbario purse.

Ivana Helsinki Herbario purse.

This is not just fashion. It is a lifestyle, universe of it's own where night skies are full of stars. The sea whispers its secrets to a vagabond. Everything carries meaning and the art gives us freedom to feel. Freedom to breathe. Something we so desperately need.

Here are some of my stories inspired by Ivana Helsinki, not necessarily true but genuine.

Northern Oddity.

Sea salt had smoothened her skin and you could see her hair was dried in the ruthless Northern wind. Her presence was like the first fresh darkening autumn evening after the nightless nights under midnight sun. There was something radical in her independence and originality of thought. And that is what made her so fascinating.   

Roadtrips & Dresses.

She looked like an empress in her airy and graceful cold-colored dress and she did feel like one of her own life. Under the bright city lights people passing by were looking for something to let them free and forget themselves for a moment. She had come to understand that real freedom was a choice but not an easy one.

She stepped into the car.  He talked to the driver in a language she couldn’t speak. She had no idea where they were heading but she was sure it was going to be an experience.

Coming from very different backgrounds they still had something in common - the ability to imagine things that did not yet exist and a desire to bring them to life. And that was more than enough.

Love stories.

Her hands were gliding down on the soft pages of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. “He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking”, she read again and again. How could someone express so well what she felt for him. And she could see he felt the same.

The past days had been filled with delicate moments, exchange of somewhat shy but so gentle glances and smiles that were impossible to hide.

That night the music seemed a little more immersive, a little softer. He stepped closer under the colorful lights. A sparkling stream rushed through her body.

If revolution was a feeling, this must be how it would feel like.    

Photo: Cindy Phong

Photo: Cindy Phong

Pure Beauty.

She looked at the mirror. She didn’t see perfect curves, satin straight hair or a flawless skin. Instead, she saw eyes burning for inspiration, a spark for something unexpected and a body full of energy. She saw a girl who could carry herself with pride and express herself.

And to her, that was Pure Beauty.

Photo: Krista Isomäki

Photo: Krista Isomäki

Photo: Cindy Phong

Photo: Cindy Phong

Wildwood Vagabonds.

She was dancing on like a burning bonfire. For her, everything was an adventure, experience for its own shake. For her not to move was not to breathe and if anything she avoided conformity. Her spirit was free and her imagination was wild. She needed to find release for all this energy she held inside. Movement and the rhythm of music kept her alive. She wandered to learn and she had huge respect for the sometimes fragile and confusing yet so powerful and incredible wonder of life.

Yours,

Meri

Sea and Salt on Your skin

There are moments that make you run out of breath and out of words. There is no rational way to describe what you are feeling and what is going on. That is why we have music. The three songs on my upcoming EP have all grown from the same ground - the aim to illustrate feelings and experiences that cannot be captured in a simple explanation. Maybe somewhere there, between the lines you will find your story, your experience. That is what makes art and music so valuable and beautiful - only complete when shared. There is no right or wrong in experience and creativity. When nothing else makes sense anymore, music always does. Since as long as we have music, we have freedom to feel and freedom to be who we really are. Close our eyes and dive into the sound, live freely for at least those few minutes floating by. 

So here is my music. Three songs will be coming out one song at a time during the end of 2017. First one is Radiant, the 31st of October. Hope they will give you something. Freedom, love, wonder, confusion, joy - or something completely else. I would love hear what it is. Feel free to leave a comment.

Dear everyone, this is Sea and Salt on Your Skin. 

Love,
Meri

Team: producers Anton Nessvi & Nikolaj Engborg, mastering by Tomas Andersson, photographers Rewan Khaki & Pedro Carvalho

Photo by Viktor Jakovlev/Unsplash

Photo by Viktor Jakovlev/Unsplash

The summer ended yesterday. So did your love to me. It disappeared together with the last bit of summer breeze. Just like that, like nothing ever happened. Today was the first clear autumn day. Fresh like a blank piece of paper. And I knew it was time to turn the page. Sky was clear and I was standing on a cliff by the sea, looking at the cruise ships float by and city open up behind the rough harbor scene. I wanted to float away too. Escape everything and everyone, sail behind the horizon and fall into the unknown. There were way too many questions running through my head. Who was I? Who were you? What happened to us this summer? And, why did you go?

RADIANT | 31/10/2017

Photo by Pedro Carvalho

Photo by Pedro Carvalho

You walk in, unexpected. Your presence fills the room and from the very moment our eyes meet I can feel the extraordinary unity between us. You release something in me. Energy. Radiance. Your light spreads all over me. All the colors of the world suddenly make sense to me. All the windows open and let the sun in. You say something to me. Your words are like diamonds that I collect and keep. I am free. This is something fresh, new and unique. Structures and patterns that I used to believe in melt into each other and form something new. Surrounded by the music, you take my hand and I feel the stream of energy floating through my body. There is such a beauty in movement. Radiance.

Listen to Radiant on: 
Spotify
Youtube
Soundcloud

NOBODY | 17/11/2017

Photo by Jan Senderek / Unsplash

Photo by Jan Senderek / Unsplash

The car lights turn into flashes in the night. A drive in the middle of the night. We are invincible, capable of anything. In this moment I feel totally alone and part of the universe. Freedom. City lights shine in the night. We are driving outside the city. To adventure, to the unknown under a sky full of stars. So in love it makes me want to explode. So inspired you cannot keep all the energy inside. These moments are so small and so great at the same time. To meet someone who you can reveal yourself to. We become free together. We release each other.

Listen to Nobody on:
Spotify
Soundcloud
Youtube
 

SEA AND SALT | 12/2017

Photo by Viktor Jakovlev / Unsplash

Photo by Viktor Jakovlev / Unsplash

I lean back. The cold seawater reaches up to my neck as I fall down. I am becoming one with the ocean. Melting in. Falling with the water. Floating. No clear picture of where I'm going, no clear picture of anything. Memories. Dreams. Deep, deep feelings. The past, the current and the future blend in together. Where does dream end and reality begin? Where do I end and you begin? Was everything how I remember it or will I always be blind? Shattered thoughts in the bottom of the sea. Pieces of a shattered mind. The ocean. Like me. Clear mirror to the skies, powerful storm in the night.