Much of the time, the quality of the food at Korean restaurants is inversely proportional to the amount of effort put into the interior decorating. Restaurants with decrepit tables, blank white walls, and stark neon lighting almost invariably produce delicious food, and if the woman waiting on you is a friendly but feisty octogenerian, it bodes especially well. This restaurant had all the promising signs, and it didn't disappoint. For six dollars, our meal included two grilled fish and the best omelet side dish I've ever had. Plus, our elderly server got an entertaining kick out of Dan's penchant for spicy foods and periodically walked by to chuckle to herself. At one point, she even declared "ohhhh, verryyy gooood" in a thick accent while watching Dan slurp his soup.
Halfway through our meal, I was in the middle of an animated story when I noticed that Dan had frozen. Slowly, in a quiet but tense voice, he said "Follow my eyes." I looked down to where a giant, veiny fish organ was perched upon his spoon. I don't know what part of the fish this is, but I understood his alarm, because I experienced the same reaction the first time I found one in my soup--and that one wasn't nearly as monstrous as his. I assured him that it was not unusual for this to be included in his soup, and he lifted it onto an empty dish, where it remained for the rest of the meal (out of my line of sight, as per my request).
I think it goes without saying that there's nothing inherently disgusting or wrong with eating fish organs, but I am fascinated by the fact that people who grow up eating such foods consider them appetizing while people like Dan and I, who are adventurous eaters in many ways, find them revolting. Lately I've been reading about critical windows that appear in the human brain for abilities like music and language, and I almost wonder whether there's a "bizarre foods" critical window as well. I'll have to await further neurological research. In any case, despite my recent triumph over the long-feared Korean blood sausage (not to mention chewy, unidentifiable pig bits), I feel confident that I will never be able to chomp down on veiny, gelatinous fish sac, and Dan wasn't either.