The Strangest Dinner Yet

First of all, some pictures from Wolmido:

Just two shots from a hill in the middle of the historic village.

A very hazy day by the sea, which claimed a man’s umbrella, and very nearly his shoes and coat.

Despite all his jazz-y looks, it sounded kind of like he was playing a cat.

Some ajumeoni playing traditional Korean percussion instruments.

This lady was dancing by weaving the cloth around her head. I thought she was going to choke herself. She was also weeping pretty hard. Shamanism is very emotional.

The last dancer. Yes, that is a fish in her hand.

That’s pretty much all the pictures I had left. I’ll be sure to take more soon.

So, Thursday, Mr. Lee asked if I’d ever had deer meat. On one occasion, I had deer jerky and really liked it. He said there was some kind of barbeque on Friday night and invited me along. I said sure, so Friday after work, he picked me up and we went to the barbeque. On the way, he asked if I’d ever eaten deer horn, which really confused me. I’d always been under the impression that horns were made out of the same stuff as fingernails, and wouldn’t be particularly worth eating.

Still, Mr. Lee insisted that you could eat deer horns. He said that it tasted like tuna, and was good for virility. “Make penis (pronounced “peh-nis”) strong!” He also told me about some of his recent health trouble, which I don’t really want to relate. Mostly because I had the opportunity to teach him the world “asshole”, (in retrospect, perhaps “anus” would’ve been more appropriate), and that should give you a fair enough idea of what kind of health problems he’s having, which relieves me of the responsibility of repeating it.

Anyway, after getting slightly lost, we pulled up to this small farm. The first thing I saw was an absolutely gigantic animal. It’s horns had been cut off, so I wasn’t entirely sure what it was. It was certainly not a deer. A Korean woman asked me the English name, and I said moose, but I honestly had no idea. It’s just the only animal of that kind that big, though it clearly didn’t look like a moose.

We walked further back to a small patio, which lead directly into the stables towards the left. The first animals I saw made me immediately think “Holy shit! Reindeer!” It was a caribou farm. Still, the first thing was even bigger. It was at least six or seven feet at the shoulder. I’d have to look up into it’s face, where the caribou were much more on an eye-to-eye level.

One of the caribou in the first stall was on its side, with a cloth over its eyes. It seemed mildly sedated, but not completely under. They started tying up its legs. I thought there were three possibilities for what was about to happen. One, they were getting ready to cut its horns off; two, it was birthing; or three, they were straight up about to slaughter it. My curiosity got the better of me, so I stayed to watch. Sure enough, they busted out a hand saw and started sawing off the thing’s horns.

Now, the thing wasn’t completely under, and it moved a little bit. I’m sure it was in some discomfort, and wasn’t all too pleased at the prospect of having something sawed off, but it didn’t seem in a particularly large amount of pain either. They had tied the first horn off, so it didn’t bleed at all really, which surprised me. Just before they started working on the second horn, some of the Korean guys we were with and Mr. Lee, started going into the stall. Mr. Lee was like “Colin, come drink the blood. It’s mixed with soju.”

Now, my initial reaction inwardly was something along the lines of “Aw hell naw, that’s vile”, and outwardly my reaction was one of plain disgust, but once again, curiosity got the better of me. I went in to watch them cut the horn off up close, and they didn’t tie it off, so it bled quite freely. They then started collecting it in bowls, and had a little pot of something they poured into it. It wasn’t soju because it wasn’t clear, and it never comes in a teapot. It may have been the traditional Korean wine, makgeolli. They handed me a bowl, and after a little hesitation, I started drinking the blood.

I expected it to be really copper-y and blood-y tasting, but surprisingly, it wasn’t. It wasn’t delicious, like they insisted it was, either, but the taste didn’t bother me. It was the temperature. It was still quite warm. That’s what bothered me. I’m standing right next to this poor animal that’s just had its horns cut off, drinking it’s blood. I wretched very slightly once or twice, but never felt in serious danger of chuffing. I finished about 3/4 of it, before I stopped and tried offering it to the Korean dudes. I noticed they had politely finished what they had been given, but none of them liked it so much they wanted to finish mine. Methinks they weren’t crazy about it, either.

I went to try and finish it, but when I tipped the bowl, the blood just hit me in the lip. It was no longer liquid. It had cooled enough to congeal and become blood Jell-o. It was at this point that I said “All right, I’m done. No more” and put the bowl on the ground and just walked away.

After that, there were two small dishes of raw caribou meat with small slices of vegetables and Asian pear. It was just okay, but the texture wasn’t my favorite. Just a little too smooth and slightly slimy. The rest of dinner was much more normal. We barbequed pork and had normal Korean side dishes. I drank a fair amount of soju and talked in Korean a little with the other businessmen and businesswoman that were there. They all seemed really impressed with my knowledge of Korean table and drinking manners. I didn’t always understand the questions they were asking me, but when they rephrased them in English, I was generally able to answer in Korean, so I felt pretty good about it.

Today, I’ve got nothing to do. Just wasting time until the World Cup games. Last night I played pool at the Banana Bar and watched soccer, but it was a bad night. The Brazil-Portugal game was a boring as fuck 0-0 draw, and Spain was up 2-0 on Chile at half-time. I was playing so poorly at pool that I felt I was in danger of getting frustrated enough to break something, so I just left. It’s already rained today, and it threatens to rain tonight for the game, which starts at 11 PM local time. The US game isn’t until 3:30 AM, so I’ll have to stay up late for that one.

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