Bizarre Eats at the Jinju Lantern Festival

The dish you see before you, dear friends, is whale meat. I've had many a discussion and debate about eating whale. I am not the type of person that thinks we should eat it often or that it should be a food source. It's one of those animals that every American kid has a sentimental attachment to.  Who can forget that tearjerker Free Willy? Although, I also try to be adventurous and try things that are strange and bizarre. I guess it's that wanderer in me. I always said that if I was out with other people and they wanted to try whale, I would too. I wouldn't order it as my main meal, but I would at least taste it.

At the Jinju Lantern Festival, there were rows and rows of food stalls. The most interesting thing was that they were all selling the same foods. Every time you walked past one, the old ladies would try and pull you in. We saw one stall that was full of people. Emilio said, "if it's full, you know the food is better there." We walked closer to one of the stalls to investigate what they were selling. We saw huge vats of spicy beef soup, weird little black chickens, roasted pork and of course, whale.

The four of us decided that there was no time like the present and to just go for it. First we had to make sure it was whale. I spoke with a female server and after a lot of hand gesturing and broken Korean, we learned it was indeed "really big fish". We ordered one serving, which was $30, a bit pricey, but I've heard it's always expensive. We also ordered beer, soju, and a bowl of spicy beef soup, just in case the whale wasn't tasty. While we waited for our meal, we drank a shot of soju for courage. 

When the plate finally arrived, it was nothing like I was expecting. To be honest, I don't know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't what they brought. The whale itself looked unlike any kind of meat I've eaten before. The skin was black and there was a thick layer of fat. The meat was cold and must've been cooked sometime earlier. As you can tell by the look on my face, I am not very excited. 

The four of us sprinkled on some salt and each took a piece. We dipped it in the soy sauce and took a bite. It was not a pleasant experience. Both Emilio and Gina looked completely disgusted. I felt the same. I don't even know how to describe the taste. It was gelatinous because of the fat, and it didn't taste like meat. It tasted really fishy. The fact that it was cold, not even lukewarm, made it taste even more like the ocean. I was not a fan. Markus actually liked it and ate more than the three of us combined. We needed to get the nasty whale flavor out of our mouths, so we ordered a plate of roasted pork. I guess that was our punishment for eating such a beloved animal.

Someone told me that these were little black chickens. I think after eating the whale, I wanted to stay far away from any other bizarre meats for the rest of the evening. 

After our whale adventure, we spent the rest of the evening wandering about looking for tasty treats. We ended the night with an order of takoyaki, which is one of my favorite street foods, and delicious $2 waffles. You can't go wrong with waffles and they were a perfect end for an adventurous evening of eating.