Warning:

*Please don’t read if you’re squeamish*

When we arrived in P, the pastor’s wife bought us some basic Korean food. She gave us a rice that she purchased by the kilo, as is customary here. I split it into two plastic ziploc bags.

A few days ago we were down to the last cup of rice in the first bag so I pulled out the next bag also. In the second bag there were several worms and a black bug that had nestled into the top corners of the bag. Then I looked in the first bag and noticed a worm crawling along the crease on the bottom. I have no idea how long they’ve been in there because we never noticed them before.

I called the pastors wife immediately and asked if this was normal and if it was safe. She said the worms were not normal, but black bugs occurred sometimes if you had the rice a long time. Here she said you just wash the rice really well and the extra “things” float up, and that in the future we should put the rice in the fridge. She offered to give us rice for that night if we felt grossed out, but we declined because the rice is all from the same place, and if this is normal, then we weren’t afraid to deal with it.

Shin was already in the kitchen working on taking them out while I was on the phone. He washed the rice about 5 times and we cooked it. He told me while it was cooking that they weren’t worms. They were maggots. I didn’t know that. That made it more gross. (Did anyone watch the Korean film, Tae Guki? Recall the scene with the guy who had an open stomach wound?)

When it was finished cooking, we did a thorough inspection of the cooked rice. But then, I have no idea what a maggot looks like when cooked. Does it turn white? Does it expand like a piece of rice? Does it disintegrate? I don’t know how I did it, but we ate the rice anyway. In addition, we ate it with curry, so once the curry was poured, it was impossible to know what we were eating. Sometimes not knowing works to your advantage, other times, not knowing makes an entire meal contaminated. In my case, I ate almost normally (although I didn’t have much of an appetite). I think I was able to eat because I was in a state of shock to register it.

The next day I realized that we had eaten it and I felt disgusted… I haven’t cooked much ever since a few days ago. The sad thing is, when we came here, we encountered worms in the eggplant, rotten melons, ham and cheese gone bad, and other affects of natural food without preservation. So I felt a false sense of security in Korean food. It was familiar and felt like home, so it was my “safe” food. It was painful when the maggot incident happened because it felt like that comfort was taken away.

I wasn’t going to write about this incident in order to focus on more important things, but I found myself blogging about it on my other website and I don’t want to be duplicitous, or have two separate journals, one with the horrid stories, and one with the wonderful things. I can say that as gross as bugs are, I am really thankful for everything natural. I found myself singing that infamous chorale piece sung by Korean children’s choirs worldwide, “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all…..”

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