Food!

NicoleFood1NicoleFood2Your time abroad is THE time to have adventures, try new things, and immerse yourself in an entirely new world. Where is the best place to dip your toes in the water of a new culture? For me, it was food! Near the center of Beijing there is this lighted, stinky back alley between buildings that on any given night is packed with people. On either side there are food vendors, and there is an entire section just for souvenirs that you can bargain for. This place is called 王府井 (Wángfǔjǐng) and in Beijing, it is the place to get crazy and adventurous food! What was the craziest thing I ate while abroad aside from camel meat? Scorpions! Multiple food vendors in this alley sell either three small scorpions on a stick or one big one. After you order one (alive) they put it in a deep fryer, spice is up, and then you get to chow down! After the initial fear of even putting it in my mouth, I ate it and it was actually pretty good tasting! (好吃!) Minus the legs of course!

NicoleFood3The next thing I had to try, of course, was starfish, on a stick! My two friends and I decided to split the starfish, however the vendor never told us how to properly eat it. After taking the first bite into the hard, salty, and crunchy shell the vendor man started laughing at me! He then proceeded to let me know that you are supposed to crack open the outside shell and eat the insides…. Well at least it didn’t taste that bad! I only took two bites and then I had to pass it off to my friend, probably not something I would eat again,

What better to follow up Starfish with than Snake?  While I do not have a picture of this creature, it was a small, skinny snake with the head still attached, spiraled around a skewer. After biting into part of the body, I realized that it has almost no taste and was all crunch. Then I had the pleasure of eating the head… no so great!

I finished my adventurous night of eating with mini, tart apples covered in some type of candied coating. Delicious!NicoleFood4 After the fried ice cream, and hard candies that followed, my friends and I tested our skills at bargaining. In China, if you go to market, there are not set prices for items to purchase. The vendor gives you a price that is usually outrageously high, the buyer suggests a very low price in comparison and you bargain down to a middle ground. Bargaining in Chinese was one of the most valuable language lessons I learned, and I was able pay less! Overall it is a great culture to learn from!

– Nicole, Study Abroad Assistant

Emilie’s Korean Street Foods You Must Try

Koreans have a rich food culture. If you ever visit Korea, these street foods are all a must-try. As a foreigner, Koreans are very curious about what food you have tried and liked. “Yes I’ve tried soondae. Yes, it’s delicious!” When I answered yes to both of those questions I’d get extra brownie points from Koreans—you can too!

Tteokbokki-spicy rice cakes. I’m with a classmate walking to the subway after finishing a night class and we are both starving. My classmate spots a street food cart and drags me over with her. Tonight is Tteokbokki night!

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Tteokbokki is spicy, a little too spicy for my sensitive American tongue, but still delicious. I like rice cakes, but what I really enjoy are the pieces of odang (fish cake), green onions, cabbage, and egg—I love hard boiled eggs.

Soondae– blood sausage filled with glass noodles. The cold wind is pushing me around this evening after racquetball club practice. Once again, me and my friend are starving, and once again I am dragged over to the street food cart near the intersection in front of Yonsei University. Tonight is the night me to try soondae!

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Soondae is sometimes sold at the Tteokbokki carts, but there are also restaurants devoted to this food. It is often accompanied by lung and a salt/spice mixture seen above. In Korea many restaurants specialize in specific foods instead of serving a little bit of everything like an Applebee’s or Perkins would do in the U.S.

Egg Bread– egg baked inside a cornbread batter. It was Friday night, I was hungry, but didn’t want anything spicy or deep fried, and just wanted to get home to my bed without spending an hour at a restaurant eating. Then a magical sight appeared before my eyes at the next intersection.

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As someone who loved baking cookies, muffins, and brownies regularly, living in Korea for a year meant cravings for baked goods kept me company. I had been dreaming of corn bread for a while, and then got my fix on these amazing little egg bread ovals.

Hodduk– brown sugar and peanut filled pancake shaped pastries. I have a sweet tooth. It loves Hodduk. Basically you take a ball of dough, stuff a mixture of brown sugar and peanuts in the center, use a tool to flatten it on the griddle, and after a few flips there is a hot delicious pancake ready to be devoured.

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Gold Fish Pastries– red bean filled pastries. First of all, red bean is a thing you need to know about in Asia. It’s sweet and is used in desserts and is delicious. Don’t hate on red bean.

These gold fish pastries are made what I could consider a fish shaped waffle maker. They come out hot and are delightful on the fall and winter days they are sold.

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There you have it! Emilie’s top must-try Korean street foods. There are many other great street foods too—some are out year-round and others are seasonal; squid, chicken in a cup, waffles, and sweet potatoes are common. If I missed your favorite, please leave us a comment with what you love about your favorite street food.