on the other side of the world….
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Chua Tang (not for the squeamish)

Back in the fall, a few months after we arrived in Korea, our friend Mark told us a horror story about Korean Food. Mainly this was advice on what to avoid, as he had lived here for a year before.. but it was entertaining and slightly scary to say the least. The food he told us about was Chua Tang (only link I could find).  Here’s how he described it… more or less. (not quoting but what I remember.. with some embellishments for excitement probably :-)

–My school took me out to a restaurant near the ocean after work one day for a ‘true korean delicacy.’ I’d been out with them a lot before and we usually had some reallly good food. I learned to love korean food with these people. I’d eaten some strange things but nothing compared to that night. We went to a restaurant that was right on the water and the teachers ordered the food. They just told me fish soup – I thought alright.. can’t be too scary – at least it’s cooked, right? That’s more than usual around here. So they bring out this contraption that at first I wasn’t sure what it was.. but now it haunts me. They grabbed a fish – (still alive) – and dropped in the top. After turning the lever on the side for a bit – a fine purée of sorts started to fall out the bottom into the bowl below.  They repeated this for all the bowls and handed them out along with the usual side dishes.  I was very confused and really scared, but I tried it anyways.  One bite was all I could take.  After gagging and realizing what I was eating it was just too much to continue.  The luke warm ground fish soup was not for me…  So – if your school every says let’s go get Chua Tang  - SAY NO! –

A few months later, after our winter vacation we came back and the teachers all went out to lunch before the semester started again.  They took us to a small restaurant about 15 minutes from our school and told us we were eating fish soup, chua tang.  Regrettably, Kate and I both had forgotten the name of the soup that Mark had told us about and went along for ride.  This soup was different though.  It was a mix of Duang Jang Jiggae and Chua tang – or at least it had the Duang Jang spice in it, and it was hot!  Not so ‘fresh’ as Mark described.  So we ate it and picked the little bones out of our teeth and didn’t think too much of it until later that day when we saw Mark and told him we had this strange soup at school that day.  He reminded us of his story and we immediately both had upset stomaches. :)  The strangest thing about it was we had eaten it and, at least to the extent of continuing to eat it, liked it.  

I only bring this up now because Kate and I have had Chua Tang at 2 of our last 4 meals.  Yesterday our school went on a ‘picnic’ and went fishing in a stream in the mountains near one of our branch schools.  Some of those fish ended up in the soup.  Today we had it again for school lunch!  I hope this is a fluke and it’s not suddenly Chua Tang Season – I can only stomach so much of it.  And thinking about too much makes me sick.   

Sometimes it’s hard to get used to things over here.   I think we’ve done a good job with a lot of it,  but when it comes to things like Chua Tang… I guess I’ll  just never understand.  


1 Anne Leuck Feldhaus { 06.27.09 at 2:20 am }

ugh…you guys are SO BRAVE Chad!

2 Bill and Willa Jewsbury { 06.29.09 at 8:29 pm }

CAn’t wait for you to get back here for Texas cake and french fries and hamburgers.
We had ADDaM camp performance here in Galesburg on Friday night 26th. Great group and even a cello in the band.
WE fed them a hot breakfast and they were so grateful for cold cereal had been the norm all week in Bloomington.
Friday night they got pizza and salad and fruit.
Director was Eron Dupree, Chad. He had been a camper 10 years ago with you. He is a music teacher in Chicago now.
Travel safely and anxious to see you in July.
Love, Grandma