A Taste of Seoul
PC: MLB Properties
We’re letting team Israel handle culture this week. Following their warm-ups on Saturday night, RHP Josh Zeid and catcher Ryan Lavarnway went on a Korean Food Tour through Seoul. The MLB cameras followed along to capture their experience.
The men ventured through the streets of Seoul taking in the culture and experiencing some street food as well as sitting in restaurants to experience a variety of selected dishes.
Their menu included Odeng Guk & Tteokbokki which translated means fish cake soup and spicy rice cake. Lavarnway likened the meal to the traditional Jewish dish Matza ball soup and the dish received a dual thumbs up from the players. With that kind of a review we couldn’t leave you without the recipe for the soup, as well as a video to recreate the dish at home.
At the next spot they were served dish after dish, tasting at every turn of the plate. The menu here included gopchang (intestines), hyeo (pork tongue), meoli gogi (pig's head) and soondae (blood sausage).
The meoli gogi, or pig’s head, came wrapped in kimchi, a fermented cabbage. This seemed to be the duo’s favorite in the moment. They also were served intestine which was described as “not bad” and “better than I expected” by the players. As they were enjoying the dish, a daunting sized plate of blood sausage, called soondae in South Korea, was delivered to the table.
They were pleasantly surprised by the hyeo, pork tongue that looked a bit more like a home cooked meal. Zeid commented, “It tastes like prime rib!”
Of the meal Lavarnway said, “I thought they were going to throw weird shit at us but this is delicious.”
The pair grabbed some street food on their way to the next stop indulging in dakbal and dak-ttong-jip which translates to chicken feet and chicken butt respectively and, according to Zeid at least, it’s important to know the difference. See for yourself which dish received their culinary approval.
Last stop on the tour? What else but Hotteok, described by the locals as a sweet pancake, Lavarnway called it a funnel cake with honey on the inside, “A calzone funnel cake!” Zeid just shook his head laughing and said, “This would be perfect with some ice cream.” Looks like the first stop on their next Seoul Food walk has already been determined.
You wouldn’t know it watching him but Lavarnway, who is married to a chef, says that, before they met he was not an adventurous eater. He credits their courting with the change. They experienced a variety of foods across many cultures as part of their dating routine. The ritual seems to have made him fearless. One might say he even takes a bit of reminiscent pleasure in watching his teammate respond to some of the night’s more unexpected cuisine. As WBC Umpire Winfried Berkvens told baseballEBM last week, local food during any international tournament is definitely not for the finicky.
Lavarnway played with the Red Sox 2011-2014, spent 2015 in Atlanta as both a catcher and 1st baseman. He was picked up by Toronto in 2016 and signed with the Athletics as a free agent following the 2016 season.
In the WBC he’s back in the crouch. Lavarnway, who is a lifetime .198 batter in the bigs, is putting up the numbers in the classic hitting .333 against South Korea and .500 against Chinese Taipei with 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs and 2 RBIs in six attempts overall.
Josh Zeid is a RHP who played two seasons with the Houston Astros in 2013 and 2014, before being granted free agency. He was picked up on waivers by the Tigers in 2015 who, in turn, granted him free agency at season’s end. In 2016 the Angels picked him up then released him follow spring training where he became a Met. At the end of season he was, once again, granted free agency. To-date Zeid is posting a 5.21 ERA with 42 strikeouts in just 48.1 innings of relief in the majors.
In the Classic he has pitched 3.0 innings with one hit, two walks and four strikeouts leading into today’s game.