I was busy running errands before heading to work. I had nothing to eat all day and was STARVING. I went to Hmart to pick up some kimbap for a quick bite to eat before starting work. And just my luck, they stopped selling kimbap. I haven’t been to Hmart in a while, and I guess things have changed. Sucks…I was craving kimbap too. I browsed around to see what my other options were for eating on the go. Bibimbap?..no, it didn’t look appetizing. Buchimgae (Korean pancake)? No, they always make it so dry. Ddukbokki (spicy rice cake)? Ewww..store bought ddukbokki is gross. I continued browsing for another few minutes. There was nothing that I really wanted, but I was starving. Jokbal? Okay, I guess. Everything else there didn’t really appeal to me. So I went with jokbal.
I didn’t get a chance to eat any of the jokbal until I arrived to work. The only thing I can eat while driving is probably a corn dog or whatever on a stick. I hate getting my hands greasy and/or smelling like food, especially while driving. I generally don’t like eating with my hands. I’ll even eat a burger using a knife and fork. It’s just the way I am. I handle food with my hands all day while working, but I hate eating with my hands without the use of any utensils lol. And when I do eat with my hands, I am so OCD about washing my hands before and after. I hate the feeling of having food traces and smell lingering on my hands and can’t bear to have that feeling if I don’t wash them after, right away. Yes, I am a little OCD.
So anyway, when I finally got a chance to eat after starving all day, I tried to share some with my coworkers (culturally/ethnically diverse group). And it was funny how different people had different reactions to jokbal. My Latino coworkers looked at it, trying to figure out what it was. One guy thought it was a “mouse” lol. Maybe the texture of it looked rodent-like. I don’t know. Most of them (Latinos) were hesitant to try it. One guy tried it. After taking a bite, he continued chewing, trying to figure out what it was and what he was supposed to be tasting. A few seconds later, he decided that he didn’t like it and spit it out. When I told them that it was pigs’ feet, none of them wanted to try it. And I thought that pigs’ feet were not that uncommon in Latino cuisine, so I didn’t expect such disgusted reactions towards it.
It is funny how none of my French coworkers had any hesitation about trying the Korean version of pigs’ feet. The French are no strangers to pigs’ feet. Our chef was telling me about the different preparation methods of pigs’ feet in France. I’ve never tried the French version, but he told me that they bread it and use butter. I can’t imagine how it would taste, but I’d like to try it some day. From the way he was describing it, it sounded like it would be something I would probably need to develop an acquired taste for in order to enjoy. I think (the Korean) Jokbal is an acquired taste too. If I was trying Jokbal for the first time, I don’t think I would really like it. And I know I would be grossed out by the dipping sauce if I was having it for the first time. It’s fishy, salty, and sour. I mean, I can’t eat Jokbal without the sauce, but for the first-timer, I can understand how the fishiness can seem disgusting.
One of our waiters (who couldn’t be more of a White Bread) asked me what it was as he held it up to his face in “Fear Factor” mode. He looked at it, carefully studied it, wrestled with the idea whether to try it or not, laughed, and I guess he just couldn’t do it. It was too gross for him, I guess lol. Honestly, I wasn’t as surprised from the reaction from him. It’s a cultural thing. Pigs’ feet aren’t really commonly consumed in American culture. If I didn’t grow up eating Jokbal, I think I might be hesitant to try it too. The smell and texture of it can seem daunting for someone who has never tried Jokbal.