Apologies for the delay, I think it’s taken my stomach a week to get over it, but last Friday I added to the ever-growing list of bovine organs that I have now eaten. My best friend (at least she was up until then!) took me to her favourite restaurant for what she described as ‘an authentic Korean experience’. That probably should have set alarm bells ringing, but as we’d already polished off a few bottles of soju, we set off, with me proudly announcing that she didn’t need to worry and that I would try anything. In hindsight it might not have been the best choice of words.
Unable to decide whether we should have cow rectum (막창 – makchang) or intestines (곱창 – gopchang), she ordered a plate of each. And two more bottles of soju. The banchan (side dishes) at this restaurant didn’t just consist of the usual kimchi, bean sprouts and seaweed soup. Oh no, this place served chunks of raw liver with sesame seeds, and something called 천엽 that Google translated as ‘superficial lobe’, but further research has shown me that it’s proper name is the ‘omasum’ and it’s just another part of the stomach (also served raw). The liver was absolutely horrific, and both of us really struggled to eat it, but the 천엽 actually wasn’t so bad. The soju probably helped though.
Then came the main course; a large plate of 소막창 (cow rectum) and an equally large plate of 소곱창 (cow intestines). Having already eaten 돼지막창 (pig rectum) I kind of knew what to expect, it was just…bigger. Although 소막창 (beef makchang) is meant to be much better than 돼지막창 (pig makchang), I can’t honestly say I’m a fan of either. It’s not because of the taste, it just tastes meaty, but it is simply too chewy for me, although that is part of the appeal for Koreans. I quite liked the gopchang, it tasted a little bit like bacon if I thought really hard about it, and it was a lot less chewy than the makchang. The only slightly off-putting thing was the thick white paste oozing out of either end, which I later learned was mucus.
As the owner was so surprised to see a foreigner in his restaurant (now I know why), he gave us a dish of 염통 (sliced cow heart) as service. I thought it was the nicest part of the meal really, it was a little bit like steak, only it tasted a lot bloodier than that. It was actually quite hard to get the metallic-y taste out of my mouth, but again, the soju helped.
When I was beginning to struggle both my friend and the restaurant owner kept reassuring me of the supposed health benefits of eating intestines. They also said eating it guaranteed I wouldn’t have a hangover the next day. Lies. Barefaced lies.