… even chicken feet and stewed silk moths and stuff…

Remember how I said I would try to eat EVERYTHING in Busan, South Korea? Well, this led me down a rather scary path the other day. (This post is kinda  a continuation).

I was lucky to be being guided by Professor Lee of Dongseo University’s film school. He was obsessive about making sure we ate a lot of different things. But sometimes it’s the small things – like how different a shop you see all over LA is when you see it in Korean form.

This is what you can buy at the counter in a 711 in Busan. As everywhere, the name 711 has no relevance to when it’s open. Some are 24 hours. Most are 9am -5am. The things that look like Melrose Cheese snacks are revolting. They’re noodle paste flavored with fish, with lumps of cheese embedded in them. Like the little dried fish snacks, definitely an acquired taste.

Insane amounts of food, but the hotness kinda leaves you feeling energetic rather than sleepy. I didn’t see a fat person until the day we went to a place that’s like their McDonalds – Lotteria Burgers.

A Japanese style restaurant, with some Korean adaptations. First, you cook your veg in the soy-salt water as soon as it boils, then add the meat, which you parcel inthe lettuce and bean pods provided. Then you have soup. And then you make a rice porridge (savoury) in the pan with what’s left. A huuuge meal. Delicious.

Baby Abalone: Did not eat, I confess. I sort of wanted to even though it’s wrong, but Professor Lee said “In Korea we do not eat seafood on raining day.” And that meant we were not permitted. I’m guessing this is a superstition dating back from when food was less fresh on rainy days, as it’s hard to catch fish in rainy weather. I don’t eat fresh fish sushi for a couple of days after rain, myself. But this fish was LIVE, so it’s illogical.

World’s greatest – and probably least ecologically sound – fish market.

There’s water constantly running through. Everything in there is alive and you can have live octypus. Which freaks me out because a) they have these strange old man faces and b) you can die if a sucker attaches to your throat, which can happen even after it’s chopped up if you’re unlucky.

Korea’s seafood industry is an issue for me. It’s destructive to the livelihoods of countries like South Africa who don’t have the military might to defend their shorelines (the government bought some corvettes but can’t afford them or their maintenance, so they’re rotting in a harbour, mainly in use as navy party boats). The Korean ships rape our fisheries, and land fishers and small fishers suffer as a result due to government conservationist efforts to allow dwindling stocks to breed by protecting them with modern environmental laws. Yes, it’s a mess.

A trend I noticed – clearly a few years old – of showing the head but including a teeny weeny little body. Do you trust a chef with a big head and no body? I do, after eating there.

Chicken and beer! It’s a thing in Busan. You get various plates of fried chicken and draft beer that tastes a bit like Castle draft. For $10 I ate and drank more than I should have. The guy in the foreground looks grumpy because the Korean students were busy playing an elaborate prank on us by making us think they were having an argument among themselves. Or they were, and the whole “prank” think was a cover up… And it was awesome.

Chicken feet. Cool texture – like savoury chewing gum. I have had them before, in Transkei, stewed with tomato and onion. “Walkie Talkies” / “Chicken Dust” (Heads and feet) are a South African classic. These Korean were so chili hot that I had to spit though. So much chili that I was glad we were with two film producers, as they were able to get the restaurant to give us shot-glasses of milk.

“important for health. a healthy diet is important for children as well as adults.” Relevant to hamburger joints – how?

In*joy Lotteria. Not too sure I want to eat a hamburger named for random chance. Mind you, McDonalds is worse.

See the bowl of brown things? That’s bugs. Silk worm moths. After they hatch and lay, they’re harvested for food, which is cool with me. I just didn’t enjoy the crunching sensation as my teeth bit into the scales on their backs. They tasted like the smell of burning tyre rubber. So, not good. But hey – I proved I’d eat anything right?

Whale meat restaurant: When I said I’d eat everything in Busan, I didn’t bank on this. Whales amaze me. They’re so big, so peaceful, so strange. I want them to live. They are also endangered, and I love the underdog – always have. So no, I didn’t even think about it.

One of my fellow students loves this $1.30c soju, because “he gets a different girl every night”. But then he also added: “I think it’s just the same girl with different hair”. Soju – and this is a cheap mainstream brand – is Korea’s vodka, but ranges from 20% – 40% proof depending if it’s distilled or not. Priced from $1 a bottle to $79 a bottle too.

And that’s it. I ate. I drank (a little) and my student colleagues and I I made a movie about death and life and stuff. I sang “Englishman in New York” at a Karaoke place (in Korea, you and your friends get your own room.) I loved it.

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One Response to “… even chicken feet and stewed silk moths and stuff…”

  1. Irene's Vienna Says:

    this sounds really adventurous! cool!

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