Date: Thursday 18th October 2018
Sponsor: Rowan Beard
Venue: Miss Korea, Bromsgrove Street, Birmingham
Minutes of the Evening
Ahn Nyong Seyo (Hello)
Jo do han koo go rul jo gum bake motam nida (I only speak a little Korean)
Jwe song hahm nida (I’m sorry)
This might be a little confusing for those of you that don’t speak Korean, maybe I should proceed in English ?
It’s a little daunting taking over from David London as minutes secretary .
You fellow Bucklanders have become accustomed to intellectual, witty and perspicacious minutes from the esteemed Mr London.
I can sincerely tell you all that has now disappeared into the mists of time.
The Green verdant pastures of intellect and wit are behind you, the pinnacle was reached some time ago and now, with my appointment, you are staring into the desolate barren valley of cheap jokes, swearing, poor grammar and rambling incoherence .
Join with me as together we stumble onwards to a new, worserer era as I like to call it , as opposed to the previous much more betterer days of the past .
Thursday 18thOctober was an exciting day as us Bucklanders broke free of the cosy confines of Edgbaston Golf Club and the many stairs of Staff House and wandered into the outside world into the delightful surroundings of Miss Korea.
Our enthusiastic and charismatic antipodean host for the evening was Rowan Beard, the entrepreneur behind ‘Young Pioneer Tours’, he must have thought he really was in the wrong place when he arrived at The Buckland Club, although I hear that his new venture ‘old people’s tours of the Lake District’ is going well, I have some brochures if anyone is interested.
Rowan was not only an excellent raconteur but also a seemingly experienced salesman as he managed to sell me an apparently authentic football shirt ‘acquired’ from the DPR Korean football team, Korea DPR as they are known to FIFA, with a world ranking of 121, which is reasonable.
Korea DPR reached the Quarter finals of the World Cup in 1966, making them the first Asian team in history to make it past the group stage.
Rowan did say not to attempt to sell the shirt on ebay as my page would most likely be taken down and I might get killed. I passed this information onto my Son when I gave him the shirt for Christmas.
He seemed very happy with this unique, charming and potentially deadly present.
I should point out that I wasn’t even under the influence of alcohol when I paid £60 for the shirt as this proved to be impossible on the 25ml of uniquely bouqueted Rice Wine that we were served.
Our host, Rowan, assured us that this was the polite quantity to serve in North Korea, a custom that I will be adopting with my dinner guests in future once I have bought the tiny wine glasses needed, it felt like I was in Land of the Giants.
Further intoxification seemed unlikely as I sipped on the unfortunately named ‘Hite’ lager with their ill advised but accurate slogan ‘It’s Hite’.
I sat down to see that someone appeared to have wiped their hands on some tissue paper, screwed it up and left it in my place sitting, how rude! But I was mistaken as it turned out this was yet another in a long series of Roger Hales inspired menu designs .
As the meal commenced, I got chatting to the Junior Urologist sitting opposite, however, 40 years in the music business has taken a toll on my hearing, he took my constant and ill informed chatter about neurology with good humour, I think he thought I was taking the piss, which is ironically partly what his job entails.
Onto the food, which was surprisingly good in places and really disgusting in others, in other words a real Buckland treat. I’ve been a little reticent to just dive into everything laid in front of me since I tried to eat the leeches at the Black Dinner a few years back.
The dinner commenced with Kimchi, fermented Cabbage in chilli, which happens to be one of my favourites. A suitable start to a meal as Kimchi is very beneficial to the digestive system thanks to its diverse microflora, including lactic acid bacteria.
Our next course was Seaweed and Beef Soup. The seaweed was actually cabbage, as is often the case.
This was delicious and we gobbled and slurped our way through it in no time, only to be told by Rowan that it was usual to sip it throughout the entire meal, a case of too little information too late.
Mi Yeok Soup is an excellent source of Calcium, Iodine. Omega acids and Vitamins B1 and B3, it felt like we were at a health spa thus far, then came the delicious dumplings and the delightfully named Chicken Gizzards also known as the Ventriculus or Gastric Mill, I’m not sure this treat will find its way onto the KFC menu anytime soon , although I’ll be ripping my next chicken’s throat out to chop up and fry this dainty morsel, yummy!
Next, it was what we were all waiting for as the covers were removed from the electric barbeques intriguingly sunk into our tables. This seemed fitting as our host was Australian, I don’t want to stoop to more cultural stereotyping but we did actually throw a “Prawn on the Barbie”.
As an aside, Rowan told me that his mother told him that his family were experienced farmers and that’s why they moved to Australia in the late 1780s. Transportation of convicts from Britain to Australia began in 1788, 164,000 convicts were transported on 806 ships, I’m 100% sure that is just coincidence.
We then had the pleasure of cooking our own Beef Bulgogi, which needed to be cut into mouth sized portions with scissors. I left the cutting of the beef to the Junior Doctor on my table, which he handled with the precision and expertise of someone used to snipping a Kidney out of a patient.
I should point out that there will be no cheap dog jokes or puns, despite the all the portions being modest, no Mastiff meals here.
I have however compiled some authentic Korean jokes, feel free to shout out the punchlines:
Q – What does the Korean bread say when it hits the wall ?
A – Bhang !
It is essential that you have a grasp of the Korean language to find these jokes even remotely funny and this is a 20 minute section so might drag a little for some of you but let’s plough on !
Q – What time was it when the monster ate the Korean Prime Minister ?
A – Eight PM
Q – How does a Korean joke start ?
A – By looking over your shoulder
Q: I asked my North Korean friend “How is it going?”
A: He replied “can not complain”
Q: What do you call a joke about the Supreme Leader?
A: A Kim Jong pun.
So, no Dog jokes, although Dog meat is consumed in Korea, mainly out of necessity .
Dog meat is a source of protein and is eaten, mainly in poorer areas, Dog meat is usually served in a spicy soup or steamed or braised. I hope that Setters the record straight ?
Although The Buckland Club was formed in the spirit of culinary adventure, I’m sure that we were all pleased that our bowls were spaniel free. I certainly wouldn’t eat my Dog, he’s very clever, in fact he’s at college studying bark-e-ology.
We were however treated to Yuk Hwae, raw beef, at least I assumed it was beef, seasoned with sesame oil and dashida. It was served on Chinese pear and topped with a raw egg; an Asian version of Steak Tartare. (See recipe section of the website)
Yuk Hwae literally means raw beef, although it can sometimes be made with horse or pheasant. Luckily for me this dish wasn’t too popular so I had more than my fair share, yuk hwae me!
All things considered, this was a highly successful Buckland event, made particularly memorable by our delightfully entertaining host, Rowan Beard, a man with immense knowledge of the country and it’s food. Perhaps we should ask him to organise a Buckland trip to North Korea if only to see what shirts their football team are wearing now?
Place Mat by Roger Hale
Background to the Korean Dinner
The themes for Buckland dinners are frequently varied and sometimes bizarre, while the reasons behind them are often more so. The Korean Dinner came about because of the Chairman’s visit to North Korea in April 2017. This in itself was the result of a combination of some laissez faire parenting, and the desire to explore a few culinary myths about food in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
It is worth noting that the majority of meals were consumed in the capital, Pyongyang, and it is likely that as western tourists we were consuming better than average fair. The most notorious dish that appeared in the provinces was clams cooked in diesel. The clue is in the name. A mass of seafood was set alight having been dowsed in motor fuel. The result was delicious, with the clams opening once cooked after the diesel had burnt off. There was no smell or taste of gasoline, but some clams were slightly raw. The risk of bacterial poisoning is countered by drinking a large amount of soju (distilled rice wine). Apparently it is those that drink weak alcohol, like beer, that are more likely to get sick. What could possibly go wrong? Regrettably the committee was surprisingly reluctant to recreate this feast – fearing the possibility of food poisoning as well as facing the potential of a charge of arson or some kind of public order offence. Needless to say, do not try this at home. There was much debate amongst the tour party as to whether this was just a stunt for gullible punters – the story we were told was that this was common practice for sun lovers on the beaches of the DPRK. This was one of the more believable tales that we heard during our visit.
Breakfast was definitely the worst meal of the day. Forget any chance of the “Full English”, there was not even croissants or similar for pampered tourists. Those hoping for cereals & milk were also to be disappointed. However fans of cabbage (especially kimchi), rice, boiled potatoes & noodles were generally able to fill their boots. Much of any breakfast buffet frequently resembled the left overs from the night before. The best bet was always a cooked to order omelette. Largely due to sanctions, coffee was an extreme rarity, as was fruit juice.
One of the delights of dining was that in many ways it was like eating in a time warp. Certainly much of the décor was circa 1970. My fifteen-year-old son was shocked and amazed when locals lit up midcourse, and clouds of cigarette smoke wafted across the room. Various dishes arrived at the table in a random fashion, with almost no concession made for any form of dessert or cheese. About 90% of South Asians are lactose intolerant. Evening meals always included a compulsory cabaret. The waitresses would disappear at the end of the meal, and then return moments later to entertain with the nightly karaoke. At first this was greeted with great reverence, although as the tour progressed it became apparent that we were being treated to the same three or four songs – all DPRK national favourites. The night usually ended with guests dancing around the tables whilst holding hands. This was something that was planned for the dinner at Miss Korea, but somehow got lost in the heady excitement of events.
See the video link below for some authentic DPRK karaoke
Easily the most memorable dish was the notorious dog soup. The urban myth surrounding this cultural classic was that locals reared the unfortunate animal and then sold them on to specialist restaurants, to then begin the whole process once again. This was, almost certainly, another example of catering to the embryonic tourist trade, rather than something that the average Korean consumed on a regular basis. The soup was quite spicy, but very pleasantly so. The overall effect was similar to a Chinese style mutton broth.
The most common meal was the DIY BBQ that we were treated to almost every other day in the country’s limited restaurants. These were the table variety, and worked well. Cuts of pig and chicken, plus duck were the most common meat; none went hungry, except my vegetarian offspring. Vegetarianism was a concept that did not translate with our Korean hosts.
A Korean Dinner therefore seemed an obvious choice for a Buckland Dinner. The theme was Korean rather than uniquely DPRK because this provided a wider choice of dishes. For example, kimchi and BBQ are eaten by the people of both North & South Korea. Unsurprisingly, considering the political history of the Korean peninsula, a lot of the food is either identical or similar. However due to trade restrictions the DPRK’s diet is considerably restricted. On a more practical note, Birmingham was lacking in North Korean restaurants – for obvious reasons. With the meat market distinctly lacking in anything canine related dog soup was off the menu. Since we wanted to include BBQ as part of the dinner it was important to use a local restaurant, which was why Miss Korea was used as a venue. This was something that the committee had previously avoided, as it does not match the ethos of the Club. Very unusually for Buckland members the only wine on offer was the traditional Korean rice wine. Another different element to the meal was the suggestion that members and guests somewhat dress down in comparison to usual dinners. The thinking behind this was that the use of BBQ’s might result in hefty dry cleaning bills.