DO KOREANS DRINK MAGGOT JUICE?
The Internet went crazy when a foreigner couple traveling in Korea posted a picture of a milky drink on their social media, dubbed “Koreans drink maggot juice,” which they later said was just a harmless prank and officially apologized (but the damage was done). The drink in question was shikhye 식혜, a traditional sweet Korean rice punch. The grains of cooked rice are part of the drink that stay afloat -and, most importantly, they are not maggots!
Seriously, try them! They are delish!
WHAT ARE SOME ODD THINGS KOREANS EAT?
Sannakji 산낙지– In Park Chan-wook’s thriller flick Old Boy (2003) what shocked the viewers more than the wicked plot is the grotesque scene where the revengeful protagonist Oh Dae-su crams a squirming live octopus, sannakji into his mouth and mercilessly chews it while pulling off its tentacles desperately clinging to his face for escape. Is this how Koreans eat an octopus?
Well, Koreans do enjoy eating live octopuses mostly as an anju 안주 (food eaten with drinks) to accompany soju, but without the “eat-or-be-eaten” fight because it’s chopped into small pieces and sprinkled with sesame oil. Even after that, the severed tentacles would keep on squirming, not because they try to reclaim their pieces but because of reflex actions. For this reason, eating sannakji poses a significant risk of choking, and reports of deaths are not uncommon. It is a delicacy that needs to be had with extreme caution!
Beondegi 번데기– In the year 2310, the civilization of the earth was devastated by nuclear war, and mankind struggles to find food. What comes to the rescue is… silkworm pupa! Well, that sounds more like an opening scene from a Bear Grylls episode, doesn’t it? Well, silkworm pupa, called beondegi in Korean, is a street food, prepared either boiled or steamed and served in a paper cup with a toothpick. It’s something not everyone likes due to the repulsive, primal look (dead bugs!), but they are rich in protein, vitamins and amino acids, as extolled by the futurologists. They also come in canned forms, so you might want to consider stocking up to survive the future nuclear apocalypse…
BEAR SOUP? KNIFE NOODLES? CHICKEN ANUS…? Wait! I can explain… It’s just a big MISUNDERSTANDING!
IT’S JUST A BIG MISUNDERSTANDING! – TRANSLATION GONE WRONG
CHICKEN ANUS (X) – CHICKEN GIZZARD (O)
Dakttongjip 닭똥집 refers to the chicken gizzard but is often erroneously translated as “chicken’s poop pocket/house” because dak means “chicken” and ttongjip means “poop house,” which is a vernacular for “stomach” or “big intestine.”
KNIFE NOODLES (X) – KNIFE-CUT NOODLES (O)
Kalguksu 칼국수 refers to the type of noodle that is cut with a knife, but is often erroneously translated as “knife noodle” because kal means “knife” and guksu means “noodle.”
BEAR SOUP (X) – BEEF-BONE SOUP (O)
Gomtang 곰탕 to the type of soup that’s boiled for a long time, but is often erroneously translated as “bear soup” because gom meaning “well-boiled” happens to be a homonym with the animal “bear.”
‘L.A. GALBI’ IS NOT FROM LOS ANGELES
L.A galbi (above) is a delicious Korean BBQ that’s mistakenly thought of having originated from Los Angeles due to its name, but the abbreviation actually refers to “lateral,” because that’s the way the meat and bone are sliced. So it’s not “Los Angeles-style galbi,” but “laterally sliced galbi,” compared with the regular galbi (below).