Korean Rice Wine Uses Shocking Ingredient in the Name of Medicine

Warning: this video is graphic and is most likely going to make you lose your appetite — or any desire for a glass of rice wine.

A recent video from VICE documents the making of Korean Children’s Feces Wine which is, alarmingly, a real thing. With real feces. The wine is a traditional treatment that’s nearly obsolete in modern Korean medicine. But VICE found a doctor who still believes in the wine’s health benefits and makes it himself. In order to make the drink, a child’s feces has to be procured through an “open-minded” mother, as the doctor explains in the video.

I can’t help but think about the urine-marinated eggs sold in Dongyang, China; the fact that some people eat foreskin; and all the other gross and weird food from around the world. All of these stories have made me completely against trying any food if I don’t know what’s in it. I had the unfortunate timing of watching this video while eating my lunch. Be sure you don’t repeat my mistake.Japanese Girl Band Tricked Into Drinking 'Feces Wine'

World Streetfood Congress To Be Held In Singapore, May 31-June 9

street food
Laurel Miller, Gadling

Does the mere thought of street food set your stomach to rumbling? If so, you’ll want to get yourself to Singapore– the world’s unofficial street food (or, technically, hawker centre)– capital. The city is hosting the World Streetfood Congress May 31-June 9. Don’t let the stern-sounding name fool you: this 10-day event is all about hedonism, snackie-style.

In addition to a World Streetfood Jamboree featuring the “best street food masters” from all over the world, there are also demos, a first-of-its-kind awards ceremony, discussions on “street food opportunities,” live music, and more.

For those in the F & B industry, a two-day conference, The World Street Food Dialogues, will be held June 3-4. It will feature noted speakers/street food experts such as Anthony Bourdain, Saveur magazine editor-in-chief James Oseland, Brett Burmeister, managing editor and co-owner of Food Carts Portland, and Singapore’s beloved KF Seetoh, chef, food writer, and founder of the Makansutra food centre and “foodbooks.” Makansutra is also the organizer of the World Streetfood Congress.

For details and tickets, click here. Your path to enlightenment via assam laksa, kue pankong, nasi kapau, mee siam, fish tacos, and chuoi nuong awaits.

Nagasaki, Japan: More Than You Think

Outside of Japan, the port town of Nagasaki is simply known for one thing – the bombing that ended the second world war. There are plenty of reminders around the city, such as the striking single-legged torii gate (below) whose other half was blown off in the atomic blast, the stirring statues scattered about town and numerous memorials. It’s an important site in world history and worth going to for that reason alone.

Of course, no trip to Nagasaki would be complete without visiting Peace Park or the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, but there is so much more to Nagasaki.Yellow ceramic oragami paper cranes in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Yellow origami ceramic cranes in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.

A monument under where the atomic bomb hypocenter was located.

Peace Park being visited by an elementary school field trip.

Nagasaki played an extremely important role in Japan’s history prior to World War II as well. For over 200 years, between 1633 and 1853, Nagasaki was the only port in all of Japan that was officially allowed to conduct trade with foreign countries. The impact of this role can still be seen today in the city’s food and architecture.

Megane-bashi, the spectacles bridge.

Megane-bashi, Japanese for “spectacles bridge”, is named for the reflection it creates in the water, is a very popular and romantic spot. Visiting around sunset is key and so is finding the heart-shaped brick in the stonework.

Castella, one of Nagasaki’s unique foods.

Today, Nagasaki is probably best known within Japan for its food. The two most popular dishes are castella (above) and champon. Castella is a simple cake that was brought in by the Portuguese. It’s rich with egg flavors and can be purchased virtually anywhere in the city. On the right is the original flavor and on the left is a green tea variation. Champon is a very popular pork and seafood noodle soup that was inspired from Chinese food. There is even a popular chain restaurant called Ringer Hut that sells Nagasaki champon throughout Japan.

The cute streetcars of Nagasaki.

Much like in the U.S., most cities in Japan used to have thriving streetcar networks. Today, most have ceased operation in favor of subways and making more room for cars. However, most of the big cities in southern Japan have held onto their streetcar tradition, including Nagasaki. It’s a convenient and fun way to get around the city and their bright colors are adorable.

Onboard a Nagasaki streetcar.

A row of torii gates at a local Shinto shrine.

Nagasaki is certainly not a main attraction in Japan, and quite a ways from many of the big name sights, but it’s worth it. It’s a quiet and quaint seaside town. It’s a great place to wander around and get lost in, to stumble across small neighborhood Shinto shrines and handicraft stores. There’s an important history to Nagasaki, without a doubt, but there’s a wealth of sights to see and things to do.

[Photo credits: Jonathan Kramer]

The Kimchi-ite: An Introduction To Kimchi


The national food of Korea is undoubtedly kimchi. To many, sliced, spicy, fermented cabbage sounds far from a food with mass appeal – and the photo above isn’t exactly inviting. Yet, Koreans eat kimchi with almost every meal, and a typical Korean will eat 60 pounds of it each year. It is in many ways intertwined with everyday Korean life and culture, so much so that when it’s time to take photos, many say “kimchi!” instead of “cheese!”Kimchi is not for everyone, but I absolutely love, love, love it. For being such a simple food, there can be so much variety – different levels of spiciness, crunchiness (dependent on how fresh it is), richness of flavors from other vegetables and seafood used during fermentation, and how well it goes with certain foods. Different regions of the country also have their own variations on the side dish. Additionally, other foods beside cabbage can be kimchi’d, such as radish, scallions and garlic stems (my personal favorite). Like cheese in America, kimchi seems to find its way into almost any food. There’s kimchi fried rice, kimchi soup, kimchi jeon (kind of the Korean version of a pancake), on pizza and in burgers.

This is not some sort of concoction that people buy at a convenience store on their way home from work; two-thirds of all the kimchi consumed in Korea is homemade. The average person devotes a lot of time and energy into making it, with secret recipes handed down from generation to generation. There is even a specific kimchi-making season, called kimjang, in November. Family members get together, typically the women, and make enough kimchi for the entire year to come. You can see the large brown ceramic pots that kimchi ferments in all over the country.

So much of it is made that almost all Korean households will have a specially designed refrigerator to house the stuff. In the perfect collision of Korean culture, Psy (you know, the recent global sensation behind “Gangnam Style”) is even selling kimchi fridges in advertisements using his ridiculous song (you can check that out here).

Interestingly enough, even though kimchi is such a staple of the Korean diet, most of the cabbage sourced for its production comes from China. Which caused a bit of a crisis on the peninsula in 2010 when unfavorable weather where the cabbage is grown near Beijing caused the supply to drastically drop, resulting in prices more than tripling. The government stepped in, reducing tariffs on imported cabbage in hopes to bring prices to a reasonable level.

Kimchi is also insanely healthy, with Health Magazine listing it as one of the world’s healthiest foods. It has tons of vitamins and “healthy bacteria” and it prevents yeast infections and possibly cancer, so there’s no guilt in going on a kimchi binge. The best thing is that at restaurants in Korea, kimchi, along with all other side dishes, are unlimited; so you can eat kimchi as an appetizer, side dish, dessert or even as a main course.

Be sure to check out more about Korean culture from other Kimchi-ite posts here.

[Photo credits: Heungsub Lee and Drab Makyo]

Food poisoning! What to watch out for in 2012

food poisoningFor many people–myself included–one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel is experiencing how other cultures eat. Even if you’re only traveling as far as the other end of the state, chances are there’s a regional specialty, street food, farmers market, or restaurant that’s a destination in its own right.

Sometimes, however, the pickings are slim, or no matter how delicious the food, the odds are just stacked against you. As Anthony Bourdain put it on a recent episode of his new series, The Layover, “…if there’s not a 50-percent chance of diarrhea, it’s not worth eating.”

Gross, perhaps, but gluttonous travelers know there’s truth in those words. Bourdain happened to be referring to a late-night drunk binge at one of Amsterdam‘s infamous FEBO fast food automats (above), so with that in mind, I present this photographic homage to the things we eat on the road, despite knowing better. Walk softly, and carry a big bottle of Imodium

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[Photo credit: Flickr user .waldec]