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Bound for South Korea

Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2008, at 4:39 PM

I am taking part in a group study exchange, sponsored by Rotary Interational, to South Korea this spring. I am really nervous about the language as well as the food.

I really don't know exactly where I'll be as we'll be touring different rotary districts throughout the country. I also know I will be staying in the homes of Korean Rotarians, not in hotels. I will be staying with many different hosts while I'm there.

I met with my GSE team at a Korean restaurant in Nashville last month and we ordered several different entrees off the menu, but we had so much administrative stuff to talk about, in addition to getting to know one another, that I really didn't focus enough on what I was eating. It all tasted okay to me, at best.

A lot of people have teased me about Koreans eating dogs. I know this is true and I know dogs are considered a delicacy over there. I really find this to be truly disgusting and I can't imagine having to choke down dog meat offered to me by my host in an attempt to be a polite guest.

Does anyone have any knowledge about Korean culture and food? I welcome any and all comments. Like I said, I haven't received an itinerary from Rotary yet, so I don't know exactly where I'll be, but I imagine we'll be visiting both rural areas as well as bigger cities.


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From personal knowledge , make sur you ask before you eat and not afterwards.

Have a safe trip and may God bring you back home safe and sound.

-- Posted by michaelbell on Tue, Jan 15, 2008, at 4:47 PM

I knew that I was glad to be flying on to Japan when I saw gun towers with armed men from the window of the plane. I am sure it is a wonderful place nonetheless.

-- Posted by nathan.evans on Tue, Jan 15, 2008, at 4:50 PM

Sadie, I am not sure that I would ask at all.

Savor the experience. If you do not like the taste of something, just swallow it and never try the second piece. When I was in Japan, I followed those guidelines and survived quite well.

Asking and then refusing would take the chance of offending your host. They may make you a delicacy and be quite offended by your not at least trying it. Kimchi is made many different ways. Some I like, some I don't, but I will at least try it. Hope you like garlic.

The purpose of an exchange is usually to learn all you can while sharing your knowledge with them. If you don't try, you don't learn.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Jan 15, 2008, at 6:30 PM

Maybe the people you'll be staying with will be familiar with our culture\cuisine enough to not offer dog meat to you. I know if I were hosting visitors I would try and familiarize myself in an attempt to not disrespect or gross out my guests!

Good luck and don't forget to keep us informed!

-- Posted by DannysGal on Tue, Jan 15, 2008, at 7:02 PM

You could just do what I did when I went to Gabon - tell them your vegetarian. Of course I actually am one so it wasn't a lie, but if you're concerned about not knowing what meat you're eating it's a good way to go.

-- Posted by cfrich on Wed, Jan 16, 2008, at 8:19 AM

Eating away from home has its risks.

In Europe,you might be served horse meat.

Think of how some of our guests feel about dining in a country where folks eat corn and cow and even pig.

(It doesn't help that stores in Bell Buckle have sold little cans of meat adorned with pictures of a 'possum.)

We don't serve a lot of squirrel,rabbit,crawdads,bear,nutria,or alligator here and we let folks know if we're having chittlins' or souse or brains n' eggs.

Your hosts may already know that some Americans won't appreciate their delicacies.

They'll probably play it safe just as we would.

A vegan diet sounds like an excellent idea plus ask for mild spices or seasoning on the side.

You can always get more adventurous later.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, Jan 16, 2008, at 2:31 PM

It sounds like the experience of a lifetime - I hope that you enjoy it and learn alot. Beats covering horse shows! :)

-- Posted by lara croft on Wed, Jan 16, 2008, at 4:42 PM


Congratulations! I do know there are young Koreans enrolled in the Webb School. Maybe you can arrange to meet with them, say at the Cafe. They might really enjoy helping you learn about their culture.

Make sure you let the Blog hear all about your adventure when you return.

Doc M

-- Posted by nmonajjem on Wed, Jan 16, 2008, at 8:44 PM

Sadie, I have always had the best luck eating their soups. Usually, the darker the soup, the more tolerable the taste was for me. Then I would load up on rice if I was un-aware of the substance in the other dishes. Their tofu is actually pretty good as well, but those three dishes kept me pretty full.

-- Posted by dooshie69 on Thu, Jan 17, 2008, at 9:08 AM

Thanks for all the advice. Doc M: I would love to meet with some of the Webb students. I will be checking into this further.

-- Posted by sfowler on Thu, Jan 17, 2008, at 9:25 AM

Sadie, sometimes eating where the locals eat may be good advice, but in this case....

-- Posted by bomelson on Fri, Jan 18, 2008, at 3:55 PM

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Sadie Fowler is lifestyles editor for the Times-Gazette.
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