I don’t want to hijack a perfectly good thread, but I have to tell of my first and last experience with Kimchi.
I was stationed in Seoul in 1987-88, and that October of 87 was a really warm Indian summer on the penninsula. The Airport at Kimpo was under huge remodeling for the upcoming Olympic games, and we were hearded into customs several floors from the main part of the airport on a huge frieght elevator.
Probably close to 100 people on this elevator that proceeded to get stuck between floors, with temps reaching 85 degrees. We were there for about 45 minutes. After about five minutes, I started to smell something like B.O., but slightly sweeter and stronger. As people began to sweat, the odor grew and grew until it was like a physical thing in the elevator with us.
I was the only migook in the place, and couldn’t belieive that no one else was bothered or even noticed the smell. After about a half an hour, the smell was making my eyes water, and I thought my throat was going to slam shut from the abuse.
The doors finally opened, and we moved out into blessed fresh air, and a very apologetic airport staff. That night, after getting settled in to my room on the base, my sponsor decided to take me out for a real Korean meal on my first night. I was really excited, and couldn’t wait to tuck in.
When the waiter brought out the first few dishes, I was in hog heaven, Bulgogi, kimbop, and some of the best fresh vegetables I’ve ever had. And then he brought out the Kimchi. I leaned over and took a big breath and all I could smell was that stupid elevator.
I’ve never been able to stomach the stuff since then. It’s a shame, too, because from what I understand, people love it.