Waterfront by the ferry terminal, Ulleung-do
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Roots and "yo-gu-ru-tu," blended with a smile
Still way off the beaten path for most non-Koreans, volcanic Ulleung-do island rises up in rugged isolation off Korea's east coast, washed by Siberian currents, inhabited by a few thousand hardy souls. Along the waterfront in tiny Dodong harbor, beneath the pedestrian overpass to the ferry terminal, you just might meet this "halmoni" (Korean word for grandmother, respectfully used to address any older woman), smiling next to her trusty blender. On the menu, "deo-deok" roots--a wild mountain vegetable reminiscent of ginseng, highly valued for its medicinal properties. Try some in drinkable form, freshly blended with 'yo-gu-ru-tu' for about a dollar for a small cup. It's not as weird as it sounds--very refreshing! And, if you believe the advertising, it's good for seasickness, hangovers, and mental alertness. The island is tiny, so its culinary offerings are somewhat limited--but fresh and oh so 'local.' If you must know what 'deodeok' are, their scientific name is "codonopsis lanceolata." Venture across the sea; taste this island's roots.
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