Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Black Day - April 14th

Are you a lonely single?  Well, then today is your day!  It's the 14th of April, which means it is Black Day (블랙데이). The 14th day of every month is a special romantic day observed to express love for couples or drown in loneliness for singles.  Not all of the days such August 14th-Green Day, a day for couples to seek nature and relax while singles drink soju (it is a green bottle) to drown in sorrow, are as well-known or openly celebrated as Valentine's Day, White and Black Day.

Black Day, coined solely by Koreans to "celebrate" singleness, is marked by dressing in dark colors and together with friends eating jajangmyeon (자장면) or noodles with a black bean sauce.  Black Day is a day for those that did not have a date or love interest to exchange chocolates with on Valentine's Day or White Day. On Valentine's Day in Korea, girls give guys gifts such as chocolate while on White Day, a day that started in Japan and rapidly picked up attention in South Korea, men return the gift of chocolate more often giving candies and gifts to the women they received chocolates from on Valentine's Day.  Koreans eat noodles covered in black bean sauce or other dark colored foods on Black Day to represent their sorrows of single-hood.

About Jajanmyeon 
Pronounced with a hard j like jjajangmyeon 짜장면, but spelled 자장면
jajang (자장) - fried sauce, myeon (면)- noodle.

The jajangmyeon that Koreans traditionally eat on Black Day is a Korean-Chinese dish that originated in Incheon, South Korea from Chinese immigrants to Korea.  It was believed to be founded in 1905 in a Chinese restaurant called Gonghwachun (공화춘)  It is made of noodles known as sutamyeon ( 수타면) that are traditionally hand-made with white flour instead of potato starch that other noodles like japchae are usually made of.  The specifically hand-made noodles are an essential for good jjajangmyeon.  Due to its long history, jajangmyeon is considered a special "national" food of Korea.

In making black bean noodles, after noodles are quickly boiled, sauce is added to the mix. The sauce consists of pork and vegetables cooked in a pan. To make the sauce- pork, veggies, and seafood are stirred in a frying pan.  The black bean sauce made of chunchang (춘장) is added to the cooked goods. A stock is added to cut the saltiness and cornstarch added to thicken the sauce.  Mix it up a little with some chop sticks and the dish is ready to eat.

Are you sad to be single?  Put on your dark clothes, grab a few friends and commiserate with each other over a bowl of jajangmyeon. They say misery loves company.  If you're lucky, you may just end up finding another charming single out there. Who knows, by May 14th (Rose Day) you may be exchanging roses with someone.  Smile and have a happy Black Day.

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