Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dana Solves the North Korean Situation

Every once in a while someone will convince me to try Korean food. I always state clearly that I don't enjoy Korean food, but they will always say "Oh you just haven't had it at THIS particular restaurant, or done THIS special way", and I'm sure to like it if I just give it a chance. And it's always the same.

First off, I'm a vegetarian, so maybe they do meat just fantastically and I truly am missing out, but the vegetarian experience is horrifyingly disgusting. Here's how it goes:

You come in and look at the menu. Because you're a vegetarian, there is only one thing on the menu you can have, and that is the tofu hot pot. The ingredients sound innocuous enough; tofu, vegetables, noodles in broth. "How bad can it be?" you ask yourself. So you order it.

While you are waiting, they bring out like 13 little dishes of various foods. These are your appetizers, and they give them to you whether you ask for them or not. They are all different colors and textures, and it looks just delightful. But then you start tasting them.


I suppose that's fantastic if you like pickles. But I hate pickles. And that's all it is. Pickled carrots and pickled cabbage and all kinds of stuff soaked in pickle juice. The first few you try will just amuse you. You'll say "haha so many pickles! But that's ok, there are still 32 things left to try. I'm sure some of them will be good". But as you try your 8th and 9th dishes, suddenly you're not laughing anymore. Suddenly your stomach is turning from all the nasty pickles you just ingested, and you worry that there's no end in sight. You lift your hand heavily to the 10th dish, fingers shaking ever so slightly, because you know, YOU KNOW, in that deep down part of you that this is going nowhere good. And sure enough, the last dishes are also pickles.

Now you're angry. Where is your meal? You did not sign up for a giant plate of pickles. Now your stomach is upset and you may vomit and your tofu hot pot is taking forever.

But they do bring it out. To get the pickle taste out of your mouth you dig in immediately, but it's boiling magma hot, so you can't eat too much yet. Just enough to determine that it is blissfully free of pickle juice.

You wait the 20 minutes or so that it takes to ice down your tongue burns and then you begin. What you taste is this: boiled, unseasoned vegetables, uncooked, unseasoned tofu, and some kind of super spicy broth. I don't mean spicy like Indian spicy, where it's hot but intensely flavorful and wonderful. It's just hot. All you taste is burning. Burning and boiled vegetables and uncooked tofu.

Are these people high? Who eats that? This is why North Koreans are so easily kept under government control, I am convinced. With no good food to look forward to, they have no hope for their futures. Let's say their country was liberated. Great. They're still stuck eating pickles and unseasoned lava.

This is my plan to liberate North Korea. We open up an offshore restaurant. On some island off the coast of North Korea. And we cook those people some real food. No pickling spices in sight. We give them flavors that are sort of familiar, like gourmet Chinese food and sushi, but we do it WELL. No proselytizing. No criticizing the government of North Korea. We simply allow them to eat there and send them back home. After all, we don't want to get them in trouble. We provide the food free of charge of course.

Well those North Koreans will go home with full, satisfied bellies, knowing that something good just came to them, NOT courtesy of the "Great Leader". They'll realize that life can be something better, something different. The seed of revolt will be planted. And that's all it will take. Probably.

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