Friday, June 28, 2013

[Tour/Press article] Daegu Food Expo 2013

It would be imprudent to speak of the Daegu Food Expo without journeying into the more lubricated area of the event. Korea's drinking culture ranks among the elite of the world, with Jinro Soju recently named as the highest-sellingliquor of all time, with soju-to-go packs that look like innocent juiceboxes, with 24-hour makkeoli and maekju and virtually no laws prohibiting you from consuming it at your leisure, yes Korea's got the whole drinking thing down. Many a time we've wandered the streets of Jung-gu at night, dreaming up ways to import Korea's liberal laws and liberating nightlife to our own origins. Surely a scene such as the party zone of this year's Daegu Food Expo wouldn't fly at home, but when in Korea....

After sampling tasty treats and eats local to Daegu, Korea, and from around the globe, we were lured by liquor-peddling patrons into what we later deemed the "party zone"—an entire area sanctioned specifically for us to er, sample Korea's finest boozy beverages, complete with Makkeoli-ville style drinking huts, hanbok’d hankookin photo ops, and plenty of friendly firewater-offering enablers. Get in or get out, Korean drinking culture isn't for the faint of heart (or liver), so in we jumped—and landed right in a pool of some of the strongest soju we've ever encountered. Though presented amicably enough, in traditional porcelain Andong figures, appearances can deceive when contents are concentrated. A few more shots of innocent 45% ABV Andong Soju, insists the kind, gentle lady behind her handiwork—and who are we to argue? The rocket fuel is hardly down the hatchet before a neighboring gentleman in temple garb beckons us over to sample what looks like some rice wine. Nope, that's bamboo soju—and not the dainty kind you've mistook for apple juice on a few foggy occasions—real, brewed-in-bamboo Jukryeokgo, knock-your-socks off kind of stuff. What we thought was a sample turned into a glass and we attempted to appreciate the subtle woody nuances while knocking it back with a feigned smile. Oh Korea, we can't keep up with you, and it's only just begun...

We sample a few imported wines (if sampling means someone insisting that your cup of smooth honey wine be refilled thrice) but decided to stick with the local offerings, and mosey towards the makkeoli vendors. Makkeoli made with rice and without, some strong (ginseng makkeoli!), some sweet and creamy (this stuff), some standard GS-style fare, others only the finest. One vendor was so kind as to invite us into their tent to share some makkeoli and snacks appropriate for pairing (anchovies, shrimp crackers, gojuchang). Though our communication left something to be desired, their generosity and friendliness was innumerable—except it was slightly numerable in that we left with a bag topped up to the brim, full with five bottles of makeolli, but that's besides the point. At this day on the 2013 Daegu Food Tour, we were wined, dined, and shown incredible kindness and generosity from Korean vendors and left bursting at the seams with happiness... and a lot of makeolli too. Though we may say this still empowered by a little liquid courage, we'd say we became at least 45% more Korean on this day. Gun bae!

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