What I Ate and Drank in North Korea, Part I: Eats in the DPRK

So, as I mentioned a little while ago, I went to North Korea late last year. It was probably one of the more bizarre trips of my life, and I’ve been on more than a few unusual ones. And as I promised, I’ll tell you a little about what I ate there. I’ll also let you know what that awful, curdled-looking bottled drink was that I asked you to guess about. But first I’ll answer the questions you posed back when. I’ll warn you, though, the answers go on for a long bit, because I went into some detail. If you just want to look at pictures of food, feel free to skip ahead. The bottled drink answer is at the very bottom: KerryandTom: Yes, I did get to try local North Korean beers, and we visited the local brewery in Pyongyang, the Dadong Brewery. I’m afraid I didn’t end up with any photos worth using, though. In kind of a typical North Korean exchange, we sat down and were given a menu that promised the option of light beer (lager) or dark beer (a porter, from what I gathered). We’d been having the lager our entire trip–entirely serviceable, if not great (think somewhat warm Heineken)–so I ordered the dark. A few minutes later, the waitress returned and whispered a few embarrassed words to our senior guide. Then our guide brightly explained to us that I would be having the light beer–the brewery just happened to be all out of the dark. Myradiol, Sheilazb: I went because I enjoy going to places most people miss, and because I’ve been itching to go ever since my last chance to go to the DPRK a few years ago was scotched when yet another missile crisis flared up and North Korea temporarily banned Americans at the last minute. As for getting permission, if that’s what you meant, there’s a misconception that it’s illegal for Americans to travel there. It’s not. (It’s also technically not illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba–it’s illegal for them to spend any money there.) Travel to North Korea, however, has to be conducted through approved groups, mostly operating out of Beijing. You have to have two North Korean guides with you at all times. It’s also pretty damn expensive, and if you’re going to complain about the fact that you can only go to the places North Korean officials have signed off on, then you should probably book a flight somewhere else. If you’re interested in booking a tour, please feel free to let me know and I’ll put you in touch with an agency I highly recommend. Larrylee13: We had the option of having dog, but opted out. My traveling companion, Mark, and I figured we’d been to enough places where dog’s on the menu that it wasn’t something we needed to go out of our way to try–in fact, there was a dog restaurant near our hotel in Beijing on the trip back. Plus, our guides…

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