I was recently chastised by a diminutive sister (the sibling kind, not the nun kind) for liking squid.* I'll admit this is something of a turn around, but squid's everywhere in Korea so I guess I've gotten used to it. Besides, it's pleasantly chewy. The one place where I haven't come to terms with it is at the movie theater.
We love going to the movies. Even when there's nothing good playing. Especially for the snacks. I don't want to give you the impression that I can be bought for a bucket of yellow-drenched popcorn and a diet coke, but I did once sit through the entirety of Transformers 2. The Korean movie-going experience is like most of our Korean experiences--bits of familiar peppered with pockets of weird. Their theaters have the same posters (albeit with Korean lettering), the same lines to get your tickets, the same stadium seating with built-in cup holders. But there are some things I'm not sure I'll ever really get used to. Before each movie, they run 56 cell phone commercials instead of previews. On your way out after the show, you have to sort your garbage into recyclable, non-recyclable, and food waste. The volume is set so high your teeth rattle.
Oh, and they sell squid at the snack bar.
I'm a traditionalist when it comes to movie snacks. My needs are simple. Popcorn with buttery topping? Check. Soda big enough to go swimming in? Check. Milk Duds swiped from Sam when he wasn't looking? Check (also, shhh!). But as we learned last week with Lotteria, Korea is fond of sticking seafood into settings westerners wouldn't expect. In theaters, it's peanut squid. The notion that someone might combine peanuts and chocolate is alien to the Korean palate (which is why I practically have to contract with smugglers to get ahold of a peanut butter cup). But squid? They are all over that. Theaters sell it in pre-flavored packages with dancing squidy cartoons on the front. They're cute, but I'd never managed to order one. Every time we went to a movie, I'd walk in with great, exploratory intentions. But then there'd be this enormous vat of canary yellow, butter-esque popcorn RIGHT THERE, next to the register, and it'd take a stronger Erin than me to walk away from that. Well, up until last weekend when we went to see the newest installment of the Hobbit, and I thought, 'Why not? I'm about to be disappointed anyway.' I got the squid. And some popcorn. (Unfortunately, there was some confusion over flavor salts, and I ended up with a bucket of sugar garlic instead of the usual butter. It was that kind of evening.) At first, I was enchanted with my little adventure in movie snacking. The cartoon squid on the package had a hula skirt. What's not to love?
Then came the inevitable moment where it went in my mouth, and the enchantment died a horrible, horrible death. You know beef jerky? Take that consistency, and make it taste entirely of long-dead fish. There wasn't any hint of peanut. Or even squid. It was like gnawing on sad, chewy slivers of anchovy. So next time I'm not even going to try. I'm over it. It's plain, buttered popcorn all the way for me. You don't mess with perfect, no matter how cute the hula skirt. -Erin *She's also peeved that I don't like pickles, though this is hardly a recent development. Still, I'm apparently disowned.