Friday, August 30, 2013

Cute Shit: Korean Baked Goods

This one is about all of the cute cakes and pastries in Seoul.

There are a shitload of them. 

Actually, I thought I'd accumulated quite a few more photos on this theme in my nine months here, but I guess I've just got the few I'm posting here now.






("Poo bread", exactly what it looks like)











Where to start? It's a good thing I'm allergic to wheat, or I'd get so fat here. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting some immensely popular cafe chain with lots of cute cakes, such as Paris Baguette or Baskin Robbins. The Baskin Robbins here are better than in the States, and their cakes are adorable, not to mention affordable. Why don't they market this stuff in the U.S.? No idea. I would spend like $22 on a miniature ice cream cake with three-dimensional stars and baby zoo animals.



I had been to a few Korean-owned doughnut shops on the left coast and wondered why those particular people seemed so adept in that niche, and as it turns out, it's because Koreans fucking love doughnuts. Since Korea is so homogeneous, there's basically a specific set of brands for everything (e.g. North Face jackets, Fjallraven Kanken and Kipling backpacks) and nearly every street throughout the country looks the same. 


Therefore, the dead cat principle (as it shall henceforth be known) also applies to doughnuts. Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme? Everywhere. Scroll to the bottom of this page to browse the basic Korean Krispy Kreme menu; it's pretty impressive. They offer a special selection in the spring that have fresh strawberries and look like tiny cakes. There's another super chocolatey one that has more chocolate chunks on top than there is doughnut. As you might expect, the Dunkin's have interesting flavours, too, such as Green Tea Red Bean, Mangosteen Jelly and Olive, Cheese, Cappuccino and Green Tea Chewistyx rings, which I'm pretty sure are made chewy and more savory by glutinous rice flour.

Small tarts, waffles and muffins are also subject to the dead cat principle. My large home subway station taunts me with seemingly countless bakeries and delicious smells. Cafes usually have an enormous waffle covered in whipped cream and accompanied by assorted fruit on the side made for a couple or friends to share, and cheap waffles are being made somewhere within throwing distance nearly 24/7, though I don't know how good they are.

Manoffin is one popular chain that always has really cute decorative muffins, as seen at Christmastime above.

These people do love their highly-refined carbs and sugar. Honestly, the fact that they're stick insect-thin is really unfair. If you don't yet believe me about how extreme their constant snacking is, take a look at the monstrosity on the left: it's just an enormous cube of chocolate chip bread about the size of your head. Not too many cafes have these, but nearly all have honey bread, which is a large slice of the cube bread (sometimes it's most of the cube) lightly toasted for just a tiny bit of crispiness but mostly for warmth and piled high with whipped cream plus whatever else, such as honey and caramel drizzle with almond slivers. This is also made for a couple or friends to share, but honestly, it's just too much. So much white rice with every meal and white bread for dessert, plus nearly everything is sweet for no reason; how has the diabeetus not swept through Seoul like the thing from The Host and wiped out half the population? The mind boggles.

Anyway, serious risk of diabetic coma aside, the enormous, usually cheap and very accessible selection of baked goodies here is lovely. Not all are up to Western standards of taste and texture, but if you're the type of girl who likes to stay at home with your cat browsing Pinterest, you'll probably shit yourself when you visit or move to Seoul. It's a good thing~