A free Tospia pumpkin and peanut sandwich for "service" in Ochang, South Korea.

There’s no doubt I love Korean food. You’ll see many of Korea’s tasty dishes captured with my Instagram photo-snapping sprees. Oftentimes I don’t have a chance to cook, so I need something like a sandwich, a quick bite, especially on days I literally run from Taekwondo to yoga class.

Tospia is one of many places serving up pressed sandwiches in Korea. It’s a popular joint for students, and little shops that dish out the crust-less little pies are everywhere. For about two bucks I can get a snack of sustenance to make it through yoga without feeling famished.

I’m a regular customer at Tospia in Ochang, so I’ve gotten to know one of the evening workers quite well. She’s a younger woman, maybe in her early 30s. Even though she knows an impressive amount of English, our conversations are generally kept quite short. Just long enough for me to wait the two or three minutes for my sandwich to toast.

Somehow I feel taken care of every time I enter the shop. Like she’s someone in the community I can trust. Go to if I ever needed. At least for something to eat. Her smile is very warm, inviting. Perhaps this is why I go back so often.

I usually get the same sandwich. Teri Cheese. It tastes kind of like a hamburger with lots of cabbage smothered in a sweet, teriyaki sort of sauce. But, many other options are available too: Hawaiian, pizza, tuna, chicken, ham and cheese, as well as pumpkin and peanut.

"Do you like the pumpkin and peanut one?" I asked, curious.

"It’s too sweet," the woman shyly responded. "Do you like pumpkin?"

"Yes! I love pumpkin, and peanuts."

That was all I had to say. She immediately began moving quickly behind the counter. I knew exactly what she was doing before she even said anything. She was making me a pumpkin and peanut sandwich. “For service,” she smiled.

'Service' is a term used in Korea for when a shopkeeper or storeowner gives you something for free, for your service, as a way of saying thanks. Little words are needed to show appreciation.

It was just a sandwich. One I didn’t even like very much. But, her kind gesture made me feel so good. It was another reminder that I’m welcome in this place, one more example of Korean generosity. I couldn’t stop smiling about it as I left, assuring her I’d stop by again very soon.


Post a Comment