Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dog Eat Trevor (or vice versa)

The other day I had the opportunity to indulge in one of the century old cuisines that make Korea such a unique country. Well, I can't say unique because the French have also had their history with such a delicacy. As controversial as it comes across, you guessed it: dog.

To be honest I was not very excited about the experience. I got a phone call from my friend Nate at about noon and he told me that his brother Aaron(who flew in for the week) really wanted to try dog. I said I'd look into it and after a few phone calls we were set for dinner! I decided that I would line my stomache with some delicious mandu before the affair though.

From what I was told, dog meat has been pretty much shunned by the up and coming generation of Korea. When the Olympics came to Seoul a few years back the practice of consuming dog was black labeled and cast as an "unsightly food". So to spruce up public image it was removed from the inner walls of Seoul. However, travel far enough to the fringes of society and you can find just about anything...

I know I'm not the only one that's played around with the idea of eating dog, so for any of you that are in Seoul and looking for a fail safe way to try the taboo meat, I present;
HOW TO GET THERE: Go to line 8 (the pink one) and head to Moran station. Walk straight out of exit 7 and Moran Market will come up on your right. When you start to see all of the vegtable/root vendors you'll know that you're there. Ironically enough, I saw this coming out of the bathrooms in the subway. Fitting, kinda.

When we were walking to the restaraunt we joked around that it would be kind of like choosing a lobster from a grocery store tank. We had no idea how close it would actually come to that. I'm not going to post the pictures for the sake of a happier time right now, but I never would have thought that they keep the dogs in cages right out front of the stores. That was probably the most awkward moment I've had in Korea to date. Eventually we mustered up enough nerve to walk in, sit down, and sit in relative silence while we waited for our bosintang to heat up. Little jokes and chatter aside, it made me pretty nervous. But that didn't stop it from coming out of the kitchen.

Now here the thing, it was pretty darn GOOD. It was so edible in fact that I forgot to take a before picture, accordingly I give you the paltry remains of my meal.

So let's get to it. I've been asked what it was like and honestly it really is like KFC fried chicken. I don't know what little woman snuck into Harland Sander's kitchen and snooped around the colonal's cook book, but the spices were dead on. The second bite wasn't so hot because I realized how fatty the meat actually is. But scraping off the undesirable parts leaves a fairy chewy meal that conjures up some unsettling meal-time images.

Some people make it spicy for their patrons, this restaraunt was decidedly not employing those people. I do in turn imagine that at another location you might be able to find something a little bit hotter, but just in case I would definitely recommend taking that bottle of tabasco sauce sitting on top of your fridge.

Yeah, just a little bit uncomfortable.

The Aftermath: Well, I can claim that I'm proud of myself for doing it but I don't think I'd do it again, not so much for the animal rights value but more so because of the taste. Sure, it was exciting and fried chicken-y but as Nate said "it tastes like meat." So really there was nothing special there.

After reading a few other blogs and responding to some comments about this experience I would give a single piece of advice to anyone that might be wrestling with the idea of eating dog. Dog itself is like any other animal that the human race has consumed for thousands of years. I concede that the living conditions of these dogs in particular are not to be envied but neither are the conditions of bovine, chicken, or pig in almost any country. If you find a problem with eating dog to be based on animal rights I hope that you are already a vegetarian. If, after trying, you become a vegetarian that will be wonderful. If you remain a carnivore that will also be awesome. In case that you actually might pursue dog meat congratulations, I hope that you will have a lot more courage than I did.