I had my first experience of “real” Korean culture. As much as many Koreans like to deny that it happens, you only have to speak to your students for a short while to have them ask you if you have eaten Boshintang yet. If it was that uncommon then it would not come up in 90% of the interviews I had with my students.
The name Boshintang literally means Invigorating Soup. This is the name you give things that are in some way objectionable, be it disgusting to look at, disgusting to eat or morally objectionable. In this case it is likely morally objectionable, because I can’t see why it would be one of the other to.
Boshintang is a soup/stew made with dog meat. Yes, mans best friend is included on the menu. To may this is a “How can you!” food, but don’t forget that beef is a “How can you!” food for many a Hindu, and I do mean many. Let’s not forget the vegetarians who are vegies for moral reasons, um, Laura. For me it is just another animal. Sure, it is the kind of animal that happens to be a pet in most parts of the world, but it is still an animal. We eat those cute fuzzy things called rabbits, don’t we? I do however disapprove of the associated with raising and slaughtering the animals. I would be upset if my steak was treated in that way as well.
Enough for now about the why, and on to the what. The meat is an extremely fatty, but very tender, dark meat. It is not bad, but the extreme fattiness makes it to rich for me. It is just not something I will eat again. I like my meat trim. Lay on the venison! The dish is presented to you in a big pot on top of a portable gas stove. The meat is on top of a few leafy vegetables with a broth/stock filling the empty space. All that is left to do is to let it boil for a few minutes, spoon some on your little bowl and dig in. You do get a sauce to dip the meat in, because what will Korean food be without a sauce to mask the taste of whatever you eat. There three or four side dishes, but I only ate of the kimchi.
Personally I would have loved a few leaves to rap my meat in, like you do with Samgjupsal, but that was not available, and if it was then I was unable to ask for it anyway. All in all it was interesting, and expensive, but not something that I will eat again soon, at least not if I have to play for it.