Actually, I think the word “cuisine” doesn’t apply in Korea. It’s just food – and not very palatable food, at that. It was very monotonous: large quantities of sliced meat cooked at the table, either on a hotplate, or in a bowl of broth, served with an invariant selection of pickles (kimchee, bean sprouts, green leaves) and stodgy steamed rice. It was also not very appetizing. The very worst dinner was at a restaurant specialising in chicken in ginseng soup. An obscene quantity of chicken (well, half chicken of the driest and stringiest kind) in a bowl of what tasted like dishwater was vile. It may be that ginseng leads to a long, long life, but I’d rather die young than have to survive on
that stuff.Well, that was the lunches and dinners. The breakfasts were (to my tastes) even more appalling. There were the ubiquitous pickles, this time accompanying a sloppy porridge of boiled rice. Absolutely vile.

The tour organisers knew that the food wouldn’t appeal to Thai tastes, so they’d arranged some extras, specially imported from Thailand: Thai sukiyaki sauce, finely chopped fiery chillies, chopped chillies in fish sauce, tiny dried fish. Still, even these could redeem the irredeemable.

As a side note, I was surprised just how conservative the Thai people were when it comes to trying new food. At every meal there was a small saucer of a Korean chilli paste. It wasn’t bad. However, not once did I see a Thai person even try it; all the saucers except mine would be left pristine and untouched.


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