Every traveler has that one end-all-be-all thing that tops the list of the most horrible foreign delicacy they can imagine eating. Giant cockroaches were my topper until last March when I went to South Korea and discovered a dish far more distressing.
I was on my way to Thailand and took a three-day stopover in Seoul for fun. A friend put me in touch with Daniel Gray who runs a Seoul nighttime eating and drinking tour (that's so phenomenal it's worth several articles and blog posts, but I'll have to get to that another time) and I lucked out that he was available to take me out last minute. Now I'd heard about Koreans eating live octopus and had a (soon-to-be-proven-false) idea that the creatures were teeny, tiny squirmy things that you'd pop into your mouth like a wriggling grape or cheese puff. Thinking this was my chance to try something really weird and possibly tasty, I asked Dan if we could go to a place that served the live critters.
"Well it's funny you asked," he said. "Because I just took some people to eat some this morning. Let me show you the video."
I don't have Dan's video, but what he showed me on his phone looked a lot like this - but not sideways:
That might have been enough to talk me out of it but then Dan added the cinching detail: several people per year die from eating octopus this way. The tentacles, still moving whether dead or alive, search for escape - something to latch onto - and the nearest something in your mouth is your windpipe. Yup, they can strangle you from the inside. Now seriously, no sushi I can think of is worth risking my life for and a live octopus could only be slimy and chewy - let alone still moving. No my kids won't have to explain to their friends that their crazy mother got suffocated by eating a live octopus in Korea, no matter how much street cred that might garner.
"OK then," I said. "Lets go eat some barbeque."
And that is another story.