Friday, July 22, 2016

It’s Festival Season! What to Eat at Your Next Daegu Festival

The start of summer signals the beginning of festival season in Daegu.  While most people attend festivals for the music, the atmosphere, the activities, or the culture, the best reason to attend is arguably the food.  From grilled meat on a stick, to stuffed squid, to cotton candy, a visit to one of Daegu’s many festivals is a mouth-watering culinary adventure.

For the Adventurous

Unsurprisingly, the best fair food in Korea is home-style Korean food.  If you’re looking for a quick bite on the go, stop by a vendor for a bowl of freshly cooked buttery squid (ojingeo), a plate of piping hot seared dumplings (mandu), or grab a stick of seasoned fish cakes (odeng) from a vat of boiling broth.  For those with more adventurous palates, try a bowl of beondegi, or silkworm larvae.  On the same cart, you’re most likely to also find the vendor selling cones of tiny marsh snails (daseulgi) eaten with a toothpick or simply bitten and sucked out of the shell. 

For an authentic Korean dining experience, pull up a plastic stool under a tented area, or pojangmacha, and order from a small menu of made-to-order Korean dishes.  Here you can find spicy soups, crispy seafood pancakes (pajeon), thick slabs of rotisserie roasted pork, and large slices of stuffed boiled squid (ojingeo sundae).  Add a bottle of soju or a bowl of dongdongju, a milky rice liquor, to complement your meal. 

For the Traditionalist

If your idea of festival cuisine involves foods that have been deep fried, roasted, or grilled on a stick then you’ll love the wide assortment of options that can be found in Daegu’s festival food scene. You can find a million different variations of sausage on a stick: plain, doused with special sauces, battered and fried, and even battered and coated with sugar! 

Korean versions of traditional fair food items such as corn on the cob, roasted chestnuts, crispy fried chicken bites, gyros, french fries, teriyaki chicken, and cotton candy can be found at most every festival.  For those still new to Korean cuisine or for those craving a taste of home, there’s plenty of familiar food items to choose from.

For the Sweet Tooth

When you’ve had your fill of fried foods on a stick, satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with some Korean favorites like rice cakes (tteok).  These mochi-like rice cakes are lightly sweetened and served in an array of colors, flavors, and fillings.  Fill a bag with pay-by-the-kilo chewy wafer cookies, fried ribbon cookies, honey cookies, puffed rice cakes, and chewy gummy candies to munch on as you enjoy the festival’s activities.  Pair your treats with a slushed ice drink, some alcoholic, or maybe just a hot cup of coffee.  Of course, no trip to any festival is complete without ice cream!  End your culinary adventure on a sweet note with Turkish ice cream, liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream, gelato, or a tall swirl of soft serve ice cream served in a j-shaped cone. 

Whether you enjoy trying new Korean dishes or are more at home with popcorn and cotton candy, there is something to satisfy every palate. 

Are you a traditionalist, adventurous, a sweet tooth, or a little bit of each?  What are your favorite festival foods in Daegu?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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