I am amazed at the, shall we say, creativity, with which human beings the world over approach the universal need for food.
Imagine that you're feeling a little hungry, and in need of a quick snack before work. What do you do? Well, head down to the Lotte Mart of course, where they keep live squid swimming around in a large aquarium. State your preference, and your friendly squid attendant will deftly scoop out the chosen one into a net and onto the cutting board. Before you can say "don't forget the spicy paste," the employee has brought out the gleaming cleaver and hacked the recently-deceased (is 'deceasing' a word?) squid into dozens of unhappily writhing, bite-sized pieces, and deposited it onto a paper plate with disposable chopsticks and packages of spicy paste for your dining pleasure. I'm told you have to chew fast, or the tentacles will stick to your teeth.
I have never considered myself intolerant towards other cultures and their penchant for certain foods that simply strike me and my North American sensibilities as revolting. I simply choose not to eat certain foods, but I don't think it's at all my place to say what is or is not right when it comes to taste.(After all, we Canadians can't seem to cook vegetables to save our lives, and any condiment other than ketchup or mustard is considered a little too exotic for our mild and unabrasive temperament. And don't even get me started on our nonsensical aversion to tofu, or curry, or spices other than dried basil and oregano (GOD FORBID we even think of using fresh-ground spices or, think of it, FRESH HERBS once and a while!!!), or the fact that we need a heart-clogging pound of flesh thrice daily in order to feel nourished). Ok, ok, so maybe I feel a little more justified in passing judgement on my own culture than one which is so very foreign and that I will never truly understand.
That said, there is one aspect of Korean cuisine which does bother me. It's not the squid, nor the popular street snack ppeondaggi (stewed silkworm pupae that smells 100 times more potent than freshly roasted grasshoppers stuck to a car's radiator on a steamy Saskatchewan summer day), but something that hits a little closer to home.
We all have a soft spot in our hearts for abandoned and abused critters, and while we don't all support the SPCA with donations, the majority of people I know at least think the organization is a good idea. Koreans, while they adore their little rat-sized fashion accessory dogs to the point of lunacy (these once-upon a time canines commonly sport doggie jewellry and dyed fur - yes, Joe talks about the "purple puppies" he sees), have a spot not in their hearts but in their stomachs for another, less fortunate breed of dog (that just happens to taste good in a soup called "boshintang")!
Now, remember what I said earlier about not passing judgement? Hindus think hamburgers are atrocious, and us Jews avoid (among other things) the "insects of the sea", those crawling, scavenging creatures that feed on carcasses and other garbage adorning the ocean floor. Well, who am I to think that eating dog meat is wrong? Is it any different? Not really - it's just a matter of taste, so to speak. The thing that, well, really gets my goat is the manner in which the dog is killed. The dog is tied down and beaten to death, in the belief that it tenderizes the meat, making it tastier and a more effective libido-booster for men....(shudder)....
So, how do you take the leftovers home? Why, in a doggie bag, of course!