Ulleung-do Island, Korea
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"Hobakmakkolli"--a pumpkin-and-rice what? Ulleung-do's quintessential drink
If you are adventurous enough to find your way to Korea's offbeat and spectacularly scenic Ulleung-do island, then surely you're adventurous enough to try some "hobak-makkolli." Let's start with an approximate pronunciation lesson: say "Hoh-bahk mahk-goal-lee" and you'll be understood and smilingly told 'oh wow, you speak such good Korean!' So, what is it? It's a traditional ale made with pumpkin and rice. Yes, an alcoholic beverage, slightly carbonated, made with pumpkin and rice, and it's only available on this volcanic island. "Makkolli" on the Korean mainland is a milky rice beverage--and it's amazing with spicy grilled meat or pan-fried seafood-and-green-onion pancake--but here, a three-hour ferry ride to the east, the local pumpkins--"hobak"--get thrown in. And it's GOOD! No, seriously, it's a deliciously and unquestionably 'local' way to quench your thirst. Pumpkins, as you'll discover as soon as you disembark, are dear to the islanders. You just have to love an island that chooses, as a mascot, a disarmingly cute pumpkin named "Haehorang." (The other mascot is a cheerful blue cuttlefish.) It would be worth your while to bring along a good phrasebook app if you visit; English is not widely spoken, but smiles are freely given.
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