vegan food from korea

Find Out How Our Events Team Are Coping With The Lockdown

What We’re Getting Up To In Lockdown…

Last week I wrote about not letting lockdown keep you down… specifically, that we should all keep dreaming our travel dreams and making our plans despite the delays that the coronavirus will impose on us all.

I spoke with our Events Team this past week about their lockdown inconveniences, and I’m far from alone in having my travel plans upended this year…

Events Assistant Gloria Contreras is in Panama during the lockdown. But, like us all, she had other plans this summer…

An avid fan of South Korean culture, she was to visit Korea this month for the first time.

But Gloria hasn’t let a travel ban stop her. These past few weeks, she’s done all she can to bring South Korea to Panama. She’s taken to watching more of her favorite Korean dramas and listening to Korean music. She found a Korean delivery place that brings her delicious kimchi and tteok-bokki (a vegan rice dish).

Koreans love their coffee and often make them so cute, with pretty designs on top, that you don’t want to drink them. “I started trying to make my coffee more fun since confinement,” says Gloria. “I’ve done everything from matcha lattes to Dalgona coffees (a whipped, frothy, Frappuccino-type drink), and even a different type of mocha with layers of chocolate, milk, and coffee foam on top—true Korean-style coffee.

“Then in April, I began a 22-day vegan challenge—I had to make a different, photo-worthy meal every day. I try to put a Korean twist on these recipes if I can’t find a fully Korean dish to try.

korean vegan food in panama

“Otherwise, my two dogs and cat are enjoying my company… I’ve been at home for over a month now. My cat decided she might actually like me (I had never gotten that impression before).

“One shocker for me is that I’ve found I’m spending more money during lockdown than when I was going out to restaurants and malls.

“I confess, I’ve indulged on some comfort foods since isolation. I missed one of my favorite Chinese bakeries in El Dorado so much that I asked a delivery guy to bring me some bread from Misawa. A US$22 splurge!”

She should have been gone to Korea already, so you can imagine how disappointed Gloria is at the open-ended timeline of Panama’s confinement. There’s no way to tell when she might be able to get another ticket to the Far East, so she’s not making any travel plans for this year. But you can be sure that 2021 will see her in South Korea.

“Once we are able to go out, my first stop will be to see my family. And I plan to do plenty of city walking with my partner. We’ll make lots of stops for coffee and other fun drinks as we tour our city—trying out new coffee and smoothie places is a hobby for us.

“From a work perspective, 2020 is a year full of new challenges for us. We’re planning so many new types of events this year, both virtual and physical, so I’ll be kept busy and learning.

“I’m looking forward to traveling again for our next LIOS conferences in Baltimore and Portugal. I can’t wait!”

I love Gloria’s idea to bring South Korea into her home and started to wish I could do the same thing. Then I realized that I’ve been unconsciously doing something similar. I moved to Paris about a year and a half ago, but between pregnancy and life with a newborn, I don’t feel I’ve been able to enjoy life in France as I had hoped and imagined.

But ever since confinement, we’ve been making an effort to bring our new home’s culture into our doors like never before. We buy local foods we haven’t tried before, make traditional French recipes, put French cable on in the background, try to speak French to one another when we remember to… we even brought the city’s best museum offerings to our TV screen thanks to modern technology.

You don’t have to leave home to experience some of the best a place has to offer right now. So, if you have a list of Shangri-las that you’re thinking of visiting or moving to, don’t let COVID stop you from enjoying them… even if you can’t get to them in person. Keep your go-overseas plan in motion by keeping the romance alive—enjoy your new culture’s food, drink, music, literature, movies, nature, and art… even if you have to do it from afar for now.

Events Manager Alessandra Sandoya is also in Panama for lockdown, though she was supposed to be traveling regularly for LIOS events…

For her, confinement has been all about gardening, baking, and her dogs. Luckily for Alessandra, she has a nice big back yard to spend time in—something this apartment-confined city girl is jealous of right now.

“This year was meant for traveling, but clearly that’s not going to happen as planned. Luckily we were able to go to Medellín right before things got ugly. I’m glad I got to spend a little time in Colombia before being stuck in Panama indefinitely.

“After work, my boyfriend and I spend time in our yard, playing with the dogs and watering the plants. We have a variety of medicinal and aromatic plants, which have been really rewarding to care for during isolation. It’s fulfilling to see them grow, but it’s also nice to know we have the know-how and ability to grow some of our own necessities in these uncertain times. Our biggest growing challenge is ants… and our dog, Shiva, who tries to eat them.

alessandras dog“I sometimes incorporate a few of our plants into baking recipes I’ve been trying lately. I’m experimenting with desserts that won’t spike my insulin levels, and it’s been fun to explore this side of niche cooking.

“Otherwise, Panama is as hot and humid as it’s ever been right now, which makes staying indoors a little easier…

“I can’t wait to be able to get to the beach once this is all over… and to see my parents, siblings, and niece.”

Alessandra’s affinity for gardening and baking are on trend for lockdown—the whole world has been shocked by empty grocery shelves and pandemic price gouging, and the natural reaction is to become a bit more self-sufficient in some way. Whether it’s growing herbs on your balcony, tending a full vegetable garden, learning to cook from scratch or cut your own hair, people are having to do more for themselves than they’ve had to in decades…

You don’t have to just survive lockdown—you can come out of it with new skills.

Alessandra is in good company with her baking and cooking yen. It seems the whole world is suffering flour shortages thanks to the new trend for home baking…

Gloria found a way to bring a whole country to her doorstep…

And, Harry, Ariadne and I are soaking up the best of Paris… from behind closed doors.

We can all find some way to get closer to our goals despite confinement.

All it takes is a positive attitude and a hunger for some new experiences.

Kat Kalashian

Posted in Live And Invest Overseas Confidential.