South Korea Battle Royale: “Red Bean Paste” vs. “Things That Don’t Taste like Adhesives”

The woman handed me a small cake like ball. It was bread on the outside with a bit of cinnamon dashed on the top. Upon receiving it I felt that there was a small hole in the middle, presumably where some cream or custard like substance would be stored, which would provide a savory goodness.

I popped the whole thing in my mouth. But what to my wondering taste buds do appear, but an awful taste and a chewy, gooish mixture.

It’s bad form to spit out food that you were given by somebody in any culture, but I had to know. What the hell was in my mouth?

Upon a quick excusal to the bathroom I found that within my mouth was a reddish substance. I guess it tasted kind of sweet, but the texture was thick and I found it hard to swallow. When I returned I asked the woman what it was. She told me “it is delicious.” I doubted that “delicious” was the name of what I was eating so I set out on a mission. It was not long before I discovered that the reddish substance was “red bean paste.” It is a popular dessert filling, and I can see why kids like it. Children are, after all, the same demographic that enjoys eating glue.

This was 10 months ago.

Fast forward to today and I still have not acquired a taste for the paste. I’m the same person who once referred to kimchi as similar to the seaweed found between the baleen plates of blue whales, and now I have a tupperware container filled with it in my refrigerator. Red bean paste has yet to find a way to my heart.

So I approach every dessert with a new trepidation. Every time there’s a fifty percent chance that what I will eat will be delicious chocolate or custard filling and a fifty percent chance that I’ll immediately want to remove it from my mouth and throw it at the person who gave it to me.

The astute observer could point out that I could simply open up the confection before eating. That way I’d know what I’m getting into. However, once I have opened up the dessert and put my hands all over it I am left with the three options of either eating it, putting it back, or throwing it out. Two of these three things are not kosher. The third one is simply undesired by me.

So, instead I guess. Four out of five rice cakes that contain something contain red bean paste, which is like injecting rubber cement with red glue. Little bread cakes are a different story. With them I have no idea.

If this is what Russian Roulette feels like

then pass me a glock.


Filed under Culture, Narratives, The foreigner experience

3 responses to “South Korea Battle Royale: “Red Bean Paste” vs. “Things That Don’t Taste like Adhesives”

  1. inho

    well. i thought the same when i first ate western sweets. particularly american sweets. i thought they were too sweet and overbearing and greasy. but i grew a taste for it of course. some people make red bean buns mixed with a lil bit of sugar nowadays.

  2. But… but… that stuff is delicious… ㅜ______ㅜ It really is!

  3. JapaneseGirlsAreCrazyToo

    Awwww, im in Japan, and i love red bean paste, i cant get enough of it. i thought that, being an American used to foods high in sugars, salts, and saturated fats, I would dislike most japanese sweets but i love them expecially red bean paste XD

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