i said i'd never do it...

Culture shock is to be expected when you travel a lot. Sometimes differences are small and just make you smile. Other times you can't help but be baffled that people can live so differently from what you think is normal.
For the most part, I've really tried to dive in to life in Seoul. I'm trying to learn pieces of their language, I'm trying to live with their styles of dress, their habits of liesure, and even their styles of food. And while trying to be as open-minded as possible, there are still some things early to which I firmly stated "NO FREAKING WAY!!!"

...until today.

Today I joined most of my coworkers for a night at the fish market, featuring Sannakji, i.e. live octopus. Sannakji is a sort of delicacy here in Korea. You choose your prey, and then they chop it into little pieces and put it on a platter for you. The pieces are still squirming on the plate. Even though chopped up, the octopus (or nakji) squirms for hours and the suction cups are still active. You are warned to chew well because the suction cups can stick to your throat and make you choke and die. No problem!

But wait, let me take you to Noryangjin Fish Market.

Here you choose your fish. They pull it out of the tank and kill it right in front of you.

It's not very often you get to watch dinner killed right in front of you. I almost felt the need to thank it before watching the guy knock it's brains out.

Then we watched as this guy prepared the fish. (i.e. slice, skin, chop, filet...get all the guts out...)

This woman helped us choose the perfect crab.

...and some other things.

After everything was chosen and purchased, we made our way to the restaurant. And this is where I bring you to some dinner entertainment videos.
Here is a picture of the Sannakji (octopus).

It really was squirming around. Check out this video!

My dad used to tease us when we were kids. He would eat gross sea creatures and pretend that they were squirming down his throat and inside his stomach. This was like a nightmare version of those memories.

And here...what I swore I'd NEVER do...

Since the pieces are still sort of alive, you have to shock them in soy sauce and wasabi. That's what's in the little dish in front of me.
And when it's inside your mouth, the suction cups try to stick to your teeth, and to the insides of your cheek.
It's a weird feeling, and all in all, I felt like I was eating a worm.
(enjoy the video!)

I'll have you know I was nervous about this all day.
I was distracted and anxious and at the dinner table I was even shaking.

Okay, so the rest of the fish, the parts that we didn't eat, were dumped into this pot which we called "Fish Head Soup" because the head and the tail were floating around simmering in the brothy goodness.

And here's a nice overhead view of the market. It's a great place, full of color, excitement, and new adventures for foreigners like me :-)


Amanda said...

You are so brave...I wish I had half the courage you have...

Dustin and Stacey said...

For real! I would never even try that! It brings back so many memories of dinners with Dad!

Jen said...

Way to go my friend. I am very proud of you!!!

Mom said...

I am a seafood lover, and I think I would have a problem with that...especially when it's squirming around.
BUT, I'm proud of you for trying it...I'll bet it's not going to become a part of your diet. What did it taste like?

Anonymous said...

I think we are all getting a little desensitized to your food. With the exception of Dustin and Stacey everyone is proud of you. I don't know if I would say proud of you, but rather, glad it's you and not me. I probably would lose a lot of weight over there. Meat and potatoes for this momma and dead before I ever see it on my plate. But, you do what you need to do. You'll be able to survive anyones cooking now and in the wilderness. Perhaps your next adventure should be on Survivor!!!! Sue

Tracey said...

OH MY GOSH GIRL!!! That is what I call sashimi. I don't know if I could have done that. You rock.

Rachael said...

I can't believe how game to are to try crazy things! You rock. You really do. :-)
Lots of Christmas love,