Street Skating

Goddess and I seem to be in the right places at the right times.  We started off the year in Köln (Cologne), Germany, staying in a hotel overlooking the square while riot police struggled to deal with an “unruly crowd“.

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Here in Korea, we emerged from the subway station to find the road lined with police buses and police putting on their riot gear.  It was May Day.  Fortunately we didn’t see anything like we did in Köln, although it looks like if we had traipsed a block or two over it would have been quite interesting.

Instead, we saw a bunch of fun street scenes.

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Art viewers being viewed while viewing art.

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Pick a stamp…

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Or a brush and paper.

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Perhaps a bowl…

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Or a well-worn tract.

During our meandering through the markets, we found a restaurant to try.  I was especially intrigued by one menu item – skate.  It was something I have never run across.

We sat down, ordered and the food quickly arrived.

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That’s the skate sashimi, known as Hongeohoe, upper right.

It is a unique dish.  As expected, it was a bit chewy as it is a cartilaginous fish.  But after a minute of chewing the piece, a very strong flavor of ammonia filled my mouth. I was not expecting that.

Once I explained my experience, our friends started laughing. The joke was on me, although they truly thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

I didn’t, but cotinued to give it a try, especially since it was a $20 USD entree.  But after a half-dozen pieces, I couldn’t do it anymore.

I learned that the ammonia flavor comes from the skin, through which the skate “urinates”, excreting uric acid.  It seems that the Koreans accentuate that flavor by fermenting the skates, sometimes for many months.

So now I have two foods on my list of “no thanks” – the skate and Japanese natto.  Both fermented dishes, which is odd since I love fermented foods.

Just not those.

But now, a day later, I realized that I would try it again.  Most suggestions are that a foreigner has to give it at least four tries before the appeal sets in.  I get that.  It would just have to be a very small serving of a few pieces, not an entire entree.

Heck, with that in mind, I might even give natto another chance.

What is on your food “no way” list (besides the two I have already mentioned)?

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