I haven’t been blogging much over the past month, but that is, as you probably know, because I’ve been on holiday back in Norn Iron. This has involved ridiculous amounts of food and drink, lots of lazing around on the sofa watching soaps and gameshows, and of course plenty of socialising with family and old friends.
One of these social occasions was something I’d been looking forward to from the moment I found out I was coming home – the monthly Blues Music day at a local bar. I’ve been attending these afternoons since I came back from university in Glasgow. On the first Saturday of every month, the resident blues band perform on the small stage in a normally quiet bar.
Music aside, one of the things I love most about it is the mixed crowd that always attends. There are probably about four generations of people in the audience, from teens up to pensioners, and everyone mingles freely. I like that. I love mixing with my parents and their friends as well as with people I knew at school, and the Blues Day is one of the few occasions that has ever allowed me to do that. The atmosphere is great, and the craic, as they say, is mighty.
This time I found myself something of a guest of honour, having been away on the other side of the world for so long. Obviously, I loved this. :) People bought me drinks and gave me hugs and listened to all my stories – and in return, I brought a bag of Korean treats to share. One of Mum’s friends is known for always turning up with paper plates and snacks for everyone, which she dishes out about halfway through the afternoon and passes along the long table for all to share. I thought it would be amusing, therefore, to put a few of my snacks out amongst her crisps and peanuts.
Imagine my surprise when just about every man there eagerly tried one of the horrible, horrible Beondegi – that’s silkworm pupae to you and me.
Smelly bugs, basically. They really, really stink, and I don’t know how they taste as they’re the only item of Korean cuisine I’ve flat-out refused to try. Interestingly, not a single woman tried one. But in some kind of weird male pride thing, the plate was solemnly passed along the table, and man after man picked one up and ate it, usually with a slight grimace. It provided great entertainment, as did the dried fish snacks (“fish jerky”, as one person put it) and the far more tasty Pepero. The barman was a very good sport and let me pour soju shots for everyone, teaching them the ettiquette rules (hands on elbows, etc.). It actually gave me a sense of pride and a lot of pleasure to be sharing the culture (and, erm, “delicacies”) of my current home country.
I found out afterwards that I was actually supposed to boil the bugs in water before serving them – oops! But hey, everyone survived, and really…. boiled or not, a bug’s a bug, eh?