Chimeak Adventures: Did We Eat Maggots!?


NightLife

We left the restaurant with a little pump in our chests.

Earlier in the evening we had set out to find 치맥 (chimaek or chicken & beer), but somehow grew more and more lost along the way. We invaded local’s personal space on the streets of Beomeo Station, searching for anyone who knew even the tiniest sliver of English. Eventually we stumbled into a convenience store off the main road, hoping a little google translate would do the trick. The lady behind the counter seemed frightened by our requests and the possibility of having to speak English to two foreigners. She retrieved a man from the back of the store, who soon ushered us into a hidden room filled with computers.

A momentary feeling of panic filled my lungs…

Visions of abductions in Aruba and scenes from Taken blinded me for a brief second, until I realized he was pulling up Google Maps; the satellite version. He dropped the little orange man right in front of the shop and pointed at the screen, saying “here, is here.” We nodded and then something sweet happened…

How Many Google Attempts Does it Take to Find a Chimaek Restaurant?

We witnessed three grown men flail around louder than average Korean, throwing in some over dramatized hand movements.They were fighting for us. They were fighting for our Chimaek. I can only imagine them saying, “No, Frank, it’s across the street,” and “Piss off Arnold, it’s on the other side of town!” The hullaballoo ended as an air of consensus entered the room. They looked at us in unison, pointed in a general direction resembling North East and said, “neeeehhh!” So, off we went, in search of their “neh.”

We found it, approximately 7 minutes later, sitting happily lit in the night, five feet from where we started.

The Unexpected:

With a crisp pitcher of Cass pored (which was far too exciting after a long trek for this beer nerd, since Korean brands pretty much all tastes like Coors Light), and an order of fried chicken placed a little “Korean (spicy),” we smiled with satisfaction. Looking down, we noticing the arrangement of side dishes already sitting before us, as is customary for all Korean meals. A little pickled radish, kimchi dyed in red paste, and then something a little different. Something we hadn’t seen before, at least not outside of images on the internet. Something that looked strangely un-ingestible.

We debated: Maybe it’s a type of nut. Perhaps it’s a beetle. And then we settled it… it has to be maggots.

Silk-Worms

Moment of Truth

Lauren went first, taking one bite and swallowing it whole. I went next, smelling my creature before placing him daintily on my tongue. I sucked a little, noticing the spices and peppery rub against my taste buds. Not too bad. Then, I took about five big chews that I instantly regretted as an earthy, quite offal taste seeped into my mouth. Swallowing and gulping down Cass to diffuse the flavor, I grinned showing all my teeth, hoping no organs were stuck in between them.

We found out, after rehashing the story of our wormy triumph half a dozen times, that what we had tried was not maggot (to our relief), but silkworm (to the sting of my aching guilt). Regardless of what we tried, we were willing to do it and I’m incredibly proud of Lauren and myself for stepping far outside of our comfort zone without thinking twice about it.

More and More Korean Every Day

As it turns out, our spontaneous conquering of a fear meant more than just getting a mouthful of something inconspicuous. It meant that even though I’ve still been very overwhelmed with what some would call the “rage stage” of living in a new country, there will always be a deep rooted part of me that is non-judgmental and willing to explore uncharted territory. Looking back I realize that we were accepting South Korea and local customs. I’m here to learn about myself and other people, see new places and embrace a culture that can sometimes seem backwards to my western mentality. I know after this year I’ll be a better-rounded and more tolerant human, which may be the most rewarding aspect of traveling.

A special thanks to all the silkworms who were harmed or murdered for the sake of my self-discovery.

Check out the video below! How’d we do?

You can catch more of my travel videos by clicking here.

What has been one of your most enlightening moments in your travels? Have you ever tried silkworm?

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16 Comments

  1. September 23, 2014
    Reply

    Super brave of you both! The photo definitely looks like maggots. I’ve found that Korea is definitely a country that requires extending one’s boundaries or eradicating them completely.

    • September 29, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks Lea! I know, the picture still makes me a little queasy… ahhh.

  2. September 24, 2014
    Reply

    AH! Bondaegi! I’m still not brave enough to try it. But to be fair, two of my friends did and immediately vomited in front of me, so I wasn’t very motivated after that. Good for you, though!

    • September 29, 2014
      Reply

      Hahaha Taylor, that’s awful! I don’t think I would have been brave enough after seeing two people throw up, either. That’s intense! I’m glad we had a fairly pleasant experience (as far as eating worms goes).

  3. September 24, 2014
    Reply

    I can hardly look at those little critters. The fact that you ate one, yea you have earned some bragging rights 🙂

  4. September 24, 2014
    Reply

    Bondegi (the silkworms) are super popular in Korea. If you wonder the streets or go to markets or festivals you will often see an ajjuma (or many) selling bondegi out of big pots. You can even buy the tinned version from supermarkets! I don’t like the taste very much, so well done for trying it.

    • September 29, 2014
      Reply

      I saw so many at the Suseong Lake festival in Daegu this past weekend. I mean like buckets and buckets of them! It’s crazy.

  5. September 24, 2014
    Reply

    Hahaha so you’ve tried bondaegi, eh? Well done. Eating it like this is much more preferable to eating it out of a can from a convenience store (DON’T. EVER. DO. IT!)

    Good job for getting outside your comfort zone. It’s an important part of acclimating to a new place. Hope you have a great year (maybe more) in Korea!

    • September 29, 2014
      Reply

      Oh man, I can’t even imagine! I definitely don’t think I’ll be picking up any canned worms at the local e-mart anytime soon haha. Thanks for the heads up though.

  6. September 24, 2014
    Reply

    Awesome! I knew sort of what it was when I ate it for the first time. Chewing is definitely not my favorite part and I will likely not be trying them again, but gotta try everything once, right? I hope the chicken was better than the “maggots”!

    • September 29, 2014
      Reply

      Oh believe me, after eating Silkworm the chicken was a god send! haha 🙂

  7. September 26, 2014
    Reply

    Very brave!! My first time we were doing a scavenger hunt in Seoul and we had to eat them from a can. SO GROSS! It tasted like wet dog. haha

    Hope you continue to be adventurous and keep an open mind!! Have fun 🙂

    • September 29, 2014
      Reply

      thanks Evan & Rachel! 🙂 I appreciate the support. Oh jeeze, that sounds unappetizing haha.

  8. The two weird things I’ve eaten in Korea — sannakji (live octopus) and beondegi — were both instances of peer pressure. Basically, my friends all wanted to do it and I was the odd person out so I felt obligated to join in. Your description of beondegi is pretty accurate. I always describe the taste as earthy/dirty and the smell (when it’s cooking in the markets) as death that I can smell from a block away.

  9. January 14, 2015
    Reply

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  10. […] with you from Korea, amongst all the other “strange foods” you may be encouraged to try, like Beondegi […]

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