Five Interesting Things I Ate in Asia17 April 2015
I won't call myself a foodie as I feel like that must involve some sort of study or in depth knowledge but damn do I love food. One of my favorite things about learning a new culture is all the food that comes with it!
My first time abroad, I feel like a totally wasted my opportunity to learn about the cuisine. Even though I lived in France for 9 months, whenever someone asks me what my favorite meal was, I mutter: "Um...actually I was really cheap during study abroad so I only ate at my apartment."
As such, I feel like I know nothing about French cuisine. From that day on, I swore to make a point to only eat local food while traveling and never saying no to anything that was offered to me.
Here are some of the most interesting (not necessarily favorite) things I tried during my 5-week trip through East Asia.
While traveling, I ended up being in Seoul during Thanksgiving and found it the perfect chance to cross off a bucket list item of mine: cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner on my own. My couch surfing host was more than happy to offer me her kitchen and invited her cousin to come join us as well. So while she was in classes, I spent the entire day in the kitchen trying to translate all her Korean ingredients, shop the supermarkets in a foreign language, and figure out her oven which was in celcius.
In the end I'd say I made a pretty awesome meal even though I had to substitute the turkey for a chicken. My host was most impressed by the gravy and wanted my recipe!
This one makes the list for being such a fun meal! Okonomiyaki, which translates to something like "made as you like it", is basically a Japanese pancake. There are several styles and pictured above is Tokyo style. This interactive meal has you mix all the raw ingredients together at the beginning and then fry them up on a griddle at your table. Then you use your mini spatula to chop it up and enjoy the savory goodness!
While not an official bucket list item, chicken feet was something I always wanted to try since I had turned it down numerous times when I lived in China. When I mentioned this to my host in Hong Kong, he insisted on taking me out for a traditional dimsum breakfast which would include the infamous chicken feet.
In the end I found the taste to be just fine but the texture is a bit weird. And with all the little bones, it's just too much work for me!
Oh lord. I often say I have no regrets but this one comes damn near close. While traveling Kyoto my host wanted on treating me to dinner. She ordered round after round of all her favorite foods, teaching me about each dish as it came out. When this bowl arrived at our table, she stumbled to explain it with her limited English.
"Um... it's from a fish?" was all she could manage.
I like fish so I picked up my chopsticks and popped it into my mouth. First I was struck by the strange texture of the food which instantly melted in my mouth. Then the flavor came. The horribly pungent flavor. I swallowed and grimaced.
"You can have the rest of this since it's your favorite!" I said, trying not to reveal my disgust.
I later looked up what shirako was and it turns out it's mother fucking fish sperm. I guess that explains why shirako translates to "white children".
This dish could be considered one of the most iconic meals of South Korean- when it's cooked, anyways. But raw? I was skeptical. I had never eaten raw beef in my life and the fact that my host was leading me down a rather sketchy looking alley wasn't making me feel any more comforted. But the fact that the tiny restaurant was packed made me think this place must be trustworthy so we ordered up a bottle of soju (rice wine), some spicy soup, and the raw bulgolgi.
The taste was totally on point! The rich flavor of the meat paired nicely with the refreshing greens and cucumber. The only thing was that the texture absolutely felt like I was eating animal flesh. As long as you can tune that out, it's a very enjoyable meal!
What's the most interesting thing you've eaten while traveling?