Three Meals a Day: Episode 2
girlfriday: I think we forgot to get something across in our last recap for this show — basically, that it’s hilariously boring. It’s a show in which nothing happens, but is strangely funny because of the meta relationship between Na PD and Seojinnie.
javabeans: Oh lol, was that not apparent in way we described them cooking rice and harvesting grain in painstaking detail? The thing is, what’s happening is really dull, but there are a lot of little wry moments that get drawn out by the situation, the editing, and the narrative that Na PD is building behind the scenes. You know how in episodes of 1 Night 2 Days or [X] Over Flowers we often bust a gut laughing over the tiny details? Well, it’s like a whole show of tiny details, only without a main plot to serve as the throughline.
girlfriday: Yes, it’s like an entire show of Over Flowers B-reel.
javabeans: But it is still oddly entertaining. And Korean audiences are definitely of that mindset too — there’s no illusion that the concept itself is interesting. Na PD and Seo-jin are getting full credit for this show’s success.
girlfriday: Which they deserve, because who else could make complaining about cooking so damn entertaining? It really is bizarre.
javabeans: We resume after dinner, where the ladies are ready to settle down for the night while the boys still have a lot of work left to do — namely, finishing off that radish kimchi they started. Hwa-jung says they should bring it indoors and do it while chatting, and time will fly.
girlfriday: Does she actually go in the room and starting eating AGAIN?
javabeans: HA. Although in this case, I have to keep in mind that she ate the boys’ dinner, which could easily have been unsatisfying.
girlfriday: Seo-jin comes in to check on the room temperature because they’re complaining that it isn’t warm enough, which is when he discovers the half-eaten triangle kimbap in her purse and dies laughing.
javabeans: I wish I could eat as much as Hwa-jung (life would be so fun!), but am glad I can’t (I would eat myself out of salary).
girlfriday: I don’t even know where she was hiding all of this, but it’s an endless parade of food as she takes out fruit and pastries too. Clearly Seo-jin and Yeo-jung are used to this, but are still amazed anyway. They get to making the radish kimchi, which consists of sitting around and giving instructions to Taec, who does all the work.
javabeans: To even their surprise, it comes out pretty decent, and Na PD admits so too. I love how he’s always surprised when Seo-jin’s food comes out edible, because he’s SO in disbelief that it’s kind of insulting.
girlfriday: And he doesn’t ever want to admit it, but Seo-jin is all, “It’s good, right? I can just tell by your face now! It’s good!”
javabeans: As Taecyeon is out by the field, something makes his eyes bug out. Na PD announces that they seem lonely, and Taec bursts out, “We’re not lonely!”
girlfriday: In comes a goat, which Na PD introduces as their new friend Jackson. HA. The look on Seo-jin’s face. It’s too good.
javabeans: Why is the (female) milking goat named Jackson?
girlfriday: That’s a good question. As Na PD tells them they’ll have to milk the goat, Seo-jin’s face doesn’t even move, while Taec just cackles in disbelief in the background.
javabeans: To enforce the milking process, Na PD declares the breakfast menu to be ricotta cheese salad, and they’ll have to make the ricotta themselves.
girlfriday: That sounds difficult. Is it? I have no idea. He adds that they have to make americanos, and they’ll be given whole coffee beans.
javabeans: How do you make espresso without a machine? They decide to sleep together in the one heated bedroom, and Seo-jin figures it’s not weird because they played a family in their last drama. So they settle down, at which point Yeo-jung asks, “Do you smell burning?” Uh oh.
girlfriday: Oh no, they made the room so hot that the floor is basically cooking things now. They go through this really long process of shouting contradictory instructions at Taec, who’s outside trying to adjust the fire, but Seo-jin keeps asking for him to make a fire that isn’t too hot but burns all night, as if that’s a thing he can control.
javabeans: You know what that’s called? Waking up every few hours and checking on the fire.
girlfriday: So then it turns out that Yeo-jung wakes up in the middle of the night to say that she’s basically being cooked on her side of the room.
javabeans: In the morning, Taec gets up early to milk the goat… which is about as successful as you’d think. The goat isn’t stationed in place but he’s trying to reach for the udders, and of course it just keeps moving away.
girlfriday: AHAHAHA, the sped-up sequence of him chasing the goat around is so great. But he manages to get some milk, to his surprise. Seo-jin wakes up and takes a while to adjust to the land of the living, and then starts pouring coffee beans into the stone grinder. I love how low-tech this is.
javabeans: I’m just wondering if their coffee is going to be kimchi-flavored, since that’s the same grindstone used for the peppers yesterday.
girlfriday: I really hope they washed it. Is that a cheesecloth they’re using? That’s smart, but the staff must’ve provided it. It would’ve been fun to see him running around wondering how to actually make the coffee.
javabeans: It looks like they’re making hanyak — that Oriental medicine you used to have to brew and strain, then drink with utter disgust.
girlfriday: Yes, it’s the same color too. So they strain their hanyak coffee and take a sip… and say it’s delicious. But then Seo-jin adds belatedly that he can taste the peppers from yesterday. Ha.
javabeans: Taec takes a cup in to Yeo-jung, who receives it gratefully… and then says, “It kind of tastes like banchan [side dishes].” LOL.
girlfriday: Taec begins the process to make ricotta, which I’m seeing for the first time ever. He’s sort of cooking the milk, but I can’t tell if he’s doing it right, and Seo-jin takes one taste and makes this weird face: “What is this?”
javabeans: I’m curious to know if Taec knew what to do or had to be told, because the show totally doesn’t show us. In any case, he finishes up and strains the cheese, and is pleased with the results.
girlfriday: He had to have been instructed, because who would just know this off the top of his head like that?
javabeans: Haha, we called the coffee hanyak, but the boys are calling it sayak [poison]. Yeo-jung catches a glimpse and is… I wanna say horrified? at the idea that this is what she’s drinking right now.
girlfriday: She doesn’t mean this at all in a positive way: “I have never had coffee like this in my entire life.”
javabeans: Doesn’t she remind you of Maggie Smith (aka Professor McGonagall)? So much dignified disdain.
girlfriday: Ha, totally. They wonder if Hwa-jung is ever going to wake up, and Seo-jin jokes that she’s dead. He has to go stir her awake, and she finally joins them (wearing sunglasses with her PJs) for coffee and ricotta cheese salad. It looks pretty good, but Yeo-jung comments that she’s never had cheese that tastes of ash before, pointing at the stone pot that Taec cooked the milk in.
javabeans: Hwa-jung breathes in the fresh air and starts to say poetically, “If I lived here with you”… and Seo-jin quips, “You’d break up, right away.”
girlfriday: Seo-jin: “This isn’t a place for healing. It’s a place where you slowly go mad.”
javabeans: Yeo-jung points out that you need to have some kind of hurt in order to be healed: “The people who should come are the ones who’ve been hurt BY him.” Hwa-jung: “That’s why we came.”
girlfriday: After a leisurely breakfast, the boys see Yeo-jung and Hwa-jung off, and the captions tell us that they managed to send off their FIRST guests without a hitch…
javabeans: I think they got off easy, but from the looks of that preview, they’re in for a day of it. At one point Seo-jin tosses something away in exasperation, and the most prominent thing in the shot is Na PD’s huge gleaming grin in the background. It practically glows.
girlfriday: Do you think they extra CG his teeth when he’s satisfied at himself for driving Seo-jin crazy?
javabeans: You don’t even need CG! We fast-forward to “a few days later,” when the two guys re-arrive at the farmhouse. I guess they’ll be popping down regularly to shoot the episodes in multiple trips.
girlfriday: I didn’t realize that it wasn’t one longish trip, but I guess that makes sense.
javabeans: I wonder if this’ll make it harder on Na PD, because the boys will be getting smarter. Taec has come armed with a lighter this time, for instance.
girlfriday: Yeah he seems much more confident now, and walks around the grounds talking to himself about things to cook. But then he yelps when he discovers something new in the back yard: a cage full of chickens. Their names crack me up. So the chickens are a girl group, and its members are Sophia, Grace, Elizabeth, Matilda, and Olivia.
javabeans: Next, Seo-jin arrives, armed with a box that earns him a “WARNING: ILLEGAL” alert. Ha, he’s totally cheating with his stash of potatoes and ready-to-prepare foods, along with a huge jug of liquor used for cooking.
girlfriday: For cooking, my ass. The funny thing is, you know Na PD cares more about the giant package of meat he’s got there. Seo-jin gets into an argument with the PDs about the potatoes and starts in on this sad story about how this is really for the benefit of the hardworking Gangwon-do potato farmers out there, who need them to promote their delicious potatoes.
javabeans: The PD argues that he doesn’t need potatoes for their menu and confiscates them. Seo-jin complains in his interview, going on and on about how vital potatoes are, like they’ve made this huge creative error in depriving him of them.
girlfriday: He trudges out to the field still mad about the potatoes, and tells Taec that they’ll have to eat the eggplants right away because they’re ripe. So they pick those and cut them up to sauté.
javabeans: The show points out that they haven’t even told them to do this; the boys are just cooking on their own. I think this is a smart strategy, to cook the thing you know how to prepare before the show can make you make your own cheese or whatnot.
girlfriday: It’s also a way to sneak in the beef tail soup he wants to make, because he’s doing it before Na PD can tell him the menu is something else. He talks about how this was his comfort food while studying abroad, which I totally get — tail soup is to me synonymous with Mom and home and warm comfy things.
javabeans: Already I’m thinking things are too easy in the second trip — if they’re cooking this well now, what’s left? I guess this is what the halbaes are for.
girlfriday: Yeah I get the feeling that this is their free pass before the halbaes come and start running them around. Taec gets really into the eggplant dish and they’re both really happy with the way it turns out.
javabeans: I fully expected Na PD to put up a huge fight over the contraband, but he seems too sanguine to not have something up his sleeve.
girlfriday: Seo-jin starts washing the endless pile of dishes, and Taec interviews that he was shocked at hyung’s squeaky-clean dishwashing, and it made him want to give that task to him all the time. The hilarious part is that the camera pans over and Seo-jin is sitting right there, and he says he just did it the once because Taec has a cold.
javabeans: The PD prods that Seo-jin can take over until Taec is better, and Seo-jin says, “He’ll be better tomorrow.”
girlfriday: They settle into bed, and talk about how cold the weather is turning. Seo-jin worries about Taec, while Taec worries about their plants and decides that they’ll have to build a greenhouse tent for them.
javabeans: It’s cracking me up how suddenly they’re talking like actual farmers. They’re literally lying in bed in the dark, ready to nod off, and saying, “I hope the frost doesn’t kill the lettuce.”
girlfriday: It’s hilarious and sweet and strange. In the morning, Taec wakes up and checks on the chickens first and finds one egg in the cage. Seo-jin gets up and washes his face, and Taec sits in front of the fire going, “Whether you wash or not, you end up covered in ash.” So, you chose not to wash, is what you’re saying.
javabeans: They use the one egg to make a tiny omelette, and Seo-jin grinds more pepper-flavored coffee. They complete both successfully, but it’s kind of a sad breakfast.
girlfriday: Seo-jin goes to a neighbor’s house to borrow power tools to build a chicken coop. He says he’s familiar with various tools because he’s helped build houses before (with Habitat for Humanity), and he looks like he knows what he’s doing as he measures the wood and cuts it with the electric saw. Caption: “This hyung… is kinda cool.”
javabeans: At least Taec also gets his own slow-motion manly-man montage once he picks up some tools to join in the coop-building.
girlfriday: It’s cool until you hear Seo-jin chuckling in the background, wondering how the guy who was just dancing in front of screaming fangirls the other day is digging holes in the ground. They manage to make the chicken coop pretty handily, but as soon as they’re done, Taec sighs that he’s hungry, and it makes both of them want to cry — now they have to go and make lunch on top of everything else.
javabeans: They eat, then realize they have to make their coop more sturdy. Heading to town to the hardware store, they make a stop at the store for liquor and ice cream while they’re at it. The PD tries to protest but Seo-jin overrules him, saying that this is totally what country farmers do, and claims his ice cream.
girlfriday: Na PD complains that they took forever but lets the makgulli pass. Taec takes the liquor away in a milk crate and treks to the river, where he ties the crate so it sits in the water, chilling the drinks. That’s so smart.
javabeans: Then they get to work securing the coop with stakes, and we get this sequence of Seo-jin just pointing and Taec dutifully hammering. Point, hammer, Point, hammer. They transfer the chickens and a PD asks how it feels to have built something for another living being. Unsentimental as ever, Seo-jin scoffs, “What are they to me? Just chicken!”
girlfriday: He literally means the kind of chickens that come fried: “I could call right now and they’d come deliver some to me!”
javabeans: As soon as they finish the coop, Taec sighs that they have to go harvest sorghum now. Seo-jin laughs incredulously, calling themselves slaves. Taec reasons that if they work hard now, at least they’ll enjoy some satisfaction at getting to drink makgulli later, and Seo-jin says Taec has been tamed to his servitude.
girlfriday: Seo-jin goes on this rant that he can’t start down the path of getting sucked into the machinations, where you’re given a puny reward for doing slave labor and feel joy.
javabeans: “He’s turning into that guy! You guys are really bad! How could you do that to that kid?!”
girlfriday: I’m dying. This is why he’s Seo-Genius, because other people don’t realize that this is what Na PD is doing, while Seo-jin refuses to feel the attendant gratefulness when the meat loan shark tosses him a bone. Even when Taec lies back in the yard and notes that the sky is pretty, Seo-jin warns him that he’s showing signs of madness: “You know slaves feel joy at the little things in life!”
javabeans: Taec says that now they regret eating that meat, haha. They sigh and get up to harvest, and Seo-jin picks up his scythe and jokes (?) that he’s gonna stab Na PD with it. There are so many rows of sorghum that the guys wonder who’ll be their guests today, hoping that they’ll be men who can help. Caption: “Your wish will come true.”
girlfriday: Yay, it’s Gu & Sub, aka Baek Il-sub halbae and Shin Gu halbae! We catch up with them as they meet each other first nearby.
javabeans: The halbaes’ arrival at the farm is intercut with the boys throwing out a wishlist of who they want, which is basically anyone young and strapping. Seo-jin suggests Nickhun, and Taec thinks Yeo Jin-gu would be a good choice.
girlfriday: Ha, he’s naming the youngest person he can think of, while they’re bringing him the oldest person they could think of.
javabeans: Taec sees them walking down the lane first, and isn’t it cute how merely the sight of the teachers seems to render his spine automatically bent over? Like he has to be in permanent bowing position out of respect?
girlfriday: They can’t even see him, but he’s immediately bowing, like how you’re on the phone with someone and still bowing as a reflex.
javabeans: Na PD pipes up (hee, of course) that Seo-jin was just dying to take care of them again and cook for them. Seo-jin says apologetically that they really don’t have much food to offer, and Gu halbae just holds up his plastic bag and says he’s good. (It’s soju.)
girlfriday: Of course it is. Seo-jin is all smiles in front of the halbaes, and it’s only later in his interview that he barks at Na PD that it’s insane to bring the teachers here: “Are you in your right mind?”
javabeans: It’s great. He’s not even bothering with the interview (in standard interview format), he’s just barking behind the camera at Na PD.
girlfriday: Seo-jin has totally reverted to that scared silent polite reaction he had at the airport when he was first surprised by the halbaes — he’s clearly not happy but can’t express anything, so he just stands there.
javabeans: As if we needed the reminder, the show lays out the current hierarchy for us, where elder slave Seo-jin outranks maknae slave Taec, as we see Taec running around busily fetching things and working hard.
girlfriday: It’s so funny when you see him in a montage though, because the show points out that once your waist is bowed, it’s permanently bowed, and in fast-forward it actually looks like he’s got a hunched back because he’s running around fetching things still bowed at the waist.
javabeans: He looks frantic and a little freaked out darting here and there and everywhere, while in contrast the show points out that Seo-jin, having experienced this before, is just walking around calmly as he works, cursing the producers.
girlfriday: Seo-jin also knows to pick a task that’s out of sight so that he has a moment to gather his senses, while Taec is basically having an inner freakout while Gu & Sub are breathing down his neck. I can actually feel the stress coming off of Taec in waves, especially when Na PD, Seo-jin, and Il-sub halbae are all giving him different instructions at the same time, and he stands there frozen not knowing what to do.
javabeans: The halbaes are getting restless for food, but there’s nothing to offer… except for ONE thing. Taec has this great moment where he has to gather his composure, sighs the word “sorghum,” and then goes to make another deal with the devil. Na PD is right there to hand off the packages of beef, and that brightens the halbaes’ faces, which I guess makes it worth it — at least until the boys have to pay for it with more field labor.
girlfriday: I love the editing in that moment. It’s like he’s selling his soul, but you know he’s gotta do it.
javabeans: He starts running around frantically to prepare the meat, while Seo-jin calmly tends to the fire in back. Na PD totally calls him on it, that he’s hiding here on purpose, but Seo-jin just stays put, stubbornly feigning ignorance while Taec is darting back and forth.
girlfriday: It’s his version of a strike, but of course it can only last so long, and on Taec’s third frantic visit, Seo-jin finally tosses his tools aside in exasperation and Na PD’s gleaming smile pops up.
javabeans: Taec is totally having his Seung-gi moment, where the panic overrides logic. “Isn’t this meat burning?” Taec runs to the meat. “Are you sure?” Takes it off heat. “It’s not cooked yet!” Puts it back on heat. “You have to do this side too!” Flips meat.
girlfriday: The thing is, we know Gu halbae is a big ol’ teddy bear, but right now to Taec, he’s like the scariest army drill sergeant ever.
javabeans: Once you get some meat and liquor into him he’ll loosen up, but right you can feel his hunger-crankiness in the air.
girlfriday: It’s like a distance of four feet, but Taec runs it about a hundred times so that he’s huffing and puffing while desperately trying to serve the halbaes a plate of grilled meat.
javabeans: There’s this long shot of the farm where you can see the tiny dot that is Taec in the background, running down the loooooong lane, while everyone in the foreground is just sitting there. You can so see the difference between Taec and Seo-jin, because when a halbae asks about soup, Taec barks “Yes!” without thinking — you know he’s going to make soup as fast as he can no matter what. Seo-jin, however, remains seated at his task and calmly says, “Continue with your meat and we’ll make it for you.”
girlfriday: Also, it cracks me up that technically no one ever said there’d be soup, but this is Gu halbae’s way of demanding it. Taec gets back to the meat grilling and yanks off his hoodie because he’s basically sweating buckets, but Gu halbae nags him to put it back on because he’ll catch a cold, so then Taec pulls it back on. He can’t even wear what he wants to, lol.
javabeans: Only after we get this whole long montage of Taec’s suffering does the show soften Gu halbae up, showing us how he calls Taec a good kid. It’s funny how watching the halbaes sitting in silence looks terrifying, but when they tell you what they were thinking in interviews, they’re sweet. Il-sub halbae: “I thought it would be boring but Seo-jinnie’s here and Taecyeon takes good care of us and works hard.”
girlfriday: While Seo-jin washes veggies, Na PD asks the halbaes about their schedules next year, and Seo-jin sends him a silent glare and then asks why no one thought to ask him about it. He quickly tells the halbaes that he’s free, and Gu halbae sing-songs that they’ll go as long as Seo-jin does.
javabeans: They must be referring to another Grandpas trip, because they insist Seo-jin has to go again with them, and add, “Nobody else will do it other than you!” Well, yes, because everybody watched Seo-jin go through it.
girlfriday: Things finally calm down when all the food hits the table, and Il-sub halbae makes Taec down his soju in one shot. Seo-jin characteristically turns the blame onto Na PD and says that if they had been given advance warning, they would’ve prepared better for the halbaes.
javabeans: Na PD sticks his head in there and needles, “What exactly would you have done, hyung?” Lol. As dinner winds down, Na PD suggests that Seo-jin think of some entertainment for the halbaes, and Seo-jin’s head snaps up, all, Whaaaa? Cut to: Seo-jin in a noraebang, singing this hilariously downbeat song.
girlfriday: Oh man, that is so awesome. I hope we get more noraebang footage next week.
javabeans: The previews for next week look especially funny. Taec proudly offers to make a dish that he learned from his mother, and Seo-jin barks, “Don’t learn stuff like that!” Then we see a secret guest arriving in the night, and Seo-jin wakes up wondering who this new person is next to them. Hee.
girlfriday: Ha, it’s Kim Kwang-gyu, their uncle in Wonderful Season. He gets put to work in the sorghum fields, and whines, “How can you treat a guest this way?” Seo-jin barks: “Hyung, you’re not a guest! You’re a field hand!”
- Oh Snap! From Seo Genie to Seo Genius
- Three Meals a Day: Episode 1
- Three Meals a Day, with a heaping side of bickering
- Na PD whips up cooking variety program with Lee Seo-jin, Taecyeon
- Na PD baits Lee Seo-jin to headline new variety show
- Grandpas Over Flowers gets remade for American TV
- Na PD on grandpas, money, and Seo-jinnie the con artist