I recently took a trip to Germany, the land of sausage, beer, and, subsequently, fairy tales. It is the first item on the list that truly has my heart, especially the dried variety the French call saucisson sec that is made to last for many months, yet still delightfully retains its meaty, slightly fatty flavor much better than anything that has been kept in the basement that long, and with less complaining.
Thus, upon my return to my current home in the Eastern hemisphere I dumped everything in my suitcase out – clothes, shoes, Fabergé eggs – in order to make room for this delightful treat. I was determined to pack as much meat candy as I possibly could cram into my suitcase and illegally smuggle in my carry on through customs.
My mother seemed concerned as I tossed my grandmother’s diamond bracelet she received at her wedding from a now-dead grandfather over my shoulder into the rubbish pile. She pursed her lips.
“Autumn,” she said gently, as though talking to a nervous stallion, yet unbroken by man, “don’t they have sausage in Korea?”
My eyes glazed over as thickly and surely as though they had been pushed under the Krispy Kreme doughnut machine as my mind hurled into a violent, triggering flashback that no mortal should be made to suffer.
I have been living in Korea for over a year now and have still not grown used to their sausage — and nor will I.
There are two options to be found here: soondae, which consists mainly of blood-soaked glass noodles with meat and spices in an intestinal casing (which, to be fair, is delicious in its own right, despite its inability to fill my sausage needs), or else the pale, flaccid monstrosity which can be best described as flavored sausage snack.
The flavored sausage snack (FSS for short, from now on) is roughly the same color as the underside of my arm: a sickly pale, yellow that comes from being away from good Lord’s light for too long. It is the bastard child of fish and cheese that nobody asked for, yet, much as a maggot seeks the innards of a corpse, came to be nestled close to the hearts of the Korean people.
A so-called friend gave me my first FSS, as I finished class one day. She was munching happily on what I assumed was a slightly expired string cheese. Having recently graduated college, my immune system was up and ready to take on whatever stupid thing I decided to consume next.
I took a tentative bite. The texture was strange, but not entirely unpleasant — it was a bit like a cheap cheese parents would feed to an offspring they didn’t like much. The taste was a bit stranger – vaguely fishy, but the texture feeling so violently incorrect for cheese that it was difficult to process.
“What is this?” I asked, a sense of dread beginning to tingle at the base of my spine.
“Sausage, silly!” she chirped happily, taking another bite of her own. I resisted the urge to smack it out of her hand. Oh god, it has cancer in it, I found myself desperately thinking as I the rubbery fishy cheesy sausage product disappeared behind her yet youthful lips.
Fortunately, she did not die. Unfortunately, she also has yet to begin to display the fantastic X-Men powers I was sure would develop from such an encounter.
Unless, of course, they did.
Back in the ‘90s, Korea was still receiving Peace Corps aid. They were a poor country, with no real natural resources. Why have they been so successful? Does it have to do with the consumption of this mysterious sausage snack? I’m not willing to test it out.