As reported last week, RocketNews24 recently brought back two bottles of Ttongsul, or “feces wine,” from South Korea.
After running the story on our Japanese site, we received a fair bit of criticism from our Korean readers, who insisted that Ttongsul no longer existed in the country and this is just something Japan contrived to smear “mud” on Korea’s good name.
Getting our hands on the beverage was certainly no easy task, and we can tell you for certain that you won’t find bottles of it being sold on the shelves of Korean supermarkets. We imagine most Koreans today have never laid eyes nor lips on the beverage, nor would they want to.
Yet, believe it or not, here we are with two bottles of feces wine and only one thing left to do: serve a glass to the cutest girl in our office.
Chie has great respect for foreign cultures and is willing to eat just about anything that can be passed off as a traditional dish, no matter how grotesque it may sound. She was the perfect test subject.
We poured Chie a glass on Tongusl, which she brought to her lips and sipped gently like a fine wine. She comments, “You can tell it has a high alcohol content. I also sense traces of Chinese medicinal herbs. It doesn’t smell like feces, but there is a feint acidity to it. I would never have guessed there was feces in it unless you had told me.”
Our other staff passed around the glass for a taste test and the consensus was in line with Chie’s: traditional Chinese medicinal wine with a strong alcohol proof and a slightly bitter aftertaste.
A bit anticlimactic to be sure, but we’d probably be singing a different tune if it actually did taste like human feces. Not that any of us know what human feces taste like (really, we don’t).
There are said to be several different methods of preparing Ttongsul, such as with a makgeolli base or a soju base, and while we were lucky enough to have gotten our hands on an odorless batch, we were told by our supplier that poorly-prepared Ttongsul can reek something special.
After months of meticulous research, a trip across the Sea of Japan, and what was probably Japan’s first documented feces wine tasting ever, we really feel like we’ve developed an appreciation for Ttongsul and what it stands for in traditional Korean culture. Now the question is, what are we supposed to do with the leftovers?
Tasting: Chie Nomura
[ Read in Japanese ]