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Love for Makgeolli Has No Borders

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Married Couple, Daniel and Rebecca, Are Totally
Enraptured by Makgeolli
They Cannot Leave Korea Because of Makgeolli

Their Way of Enjoying Makgeolli

 

The number of fans of makgeolli is increasing. Kyu-hyun, one of the members of Super Junior, posted a picture of the group members enjoying makgeolli and pajeon (Korean pancake) together. He titled the photo “On a rainy day, the best way to spend time is with makgeolli and pajeon” and many people retweeted that picture.
Another Korean superstar, Jang Geun-suk, said that he likes makgeolli very much and now makgeolli is enjoying a boom in Japan. The popularity of makgeolli is not limited to Koreans. Heather Graham, a famous Hollywood star who acted in Austin Powers and Boogie Nights, complimented makgeolli saying that “It is a really attractive alcoholic beverage.” Tang Wei was photographed discussing her next movie with her staff while drinking makgeolli. A Japanese idol, Tomohisa Yamashita, is also widely known as a makgeolli fan.
But these stories are just a drop in the bucket compared to how much the couple Daniel and Rebecca love makgeolli. They have a more profound knowledge of the Korean rice wine than the majority of Koreans. And, during an interview with them, the Korean reporter of <Korea Agrafood> blushed up to the roots of her hair because a lot of information they gave her was completely new to her. Let’s listen to the story of the American makgeolli-holic couple, and find out why they cannot go back to their home country.

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Why do you like to drink makgeolli?


Daniel Lenaghan (D): I like makgeolli because it gives a different experience than other alcohol. Just like some days only beer feels right to drink, or sometimes only wine feels right to drink, there are days that are right only for makgeolli. Usually, I actually drink wonju (distilled makgeolli stored for some time for fermentation). I like to drink wonju before performing music. For some reason, it makes me feel very steady before I perform. (I am a musician.) 
Rebbecca Baldwin (R): I like to drink hand-made makgeolli. The makgeolli I make is the most delicious. We like drinking the makgeolli prepared based on our own recipes and recipes from the old and first recipe book in East Asia “Eumsikdimibang,” which was written by a female writer. It feels like we are exploring history when we drink makgeolli that we made by ourselves. And it is actually heavier than the makgeolli on the market. Sometimes we go to a makgeolli brewery. In Korea, there are a variety of makgeolli breweries and I want to learn how various makgeolli types are made and try them. So, whenever we are free, we visit makgeolli breweries. Maybe we have been to Korean makgeolli breweries more than ten times.


I heard that Rebbecca used to work for a winery. There are many alcoholic drinks in the world. So, compared to others, could you please tell me about the merits of makgeolli?


Makgeolli is very diverse - it can be light or heavy, dry or sweet, thick or thin. What’s more, the taste of makgeolli feels familiar to foreigners. Well, makgeolli is a representative fermented food and the taste is similar to that of cheese, bread, yogurt, and other fermented foods of the West. Frankly speaking, when I first came to Korea, I suffered from homesickness. Thanks to the fermented food taste of makgeolli, I got a taste of home and am not homesick any longer.


When drinking makgeolli, Koreans usually enjoy it more if there are side dishes. What food is the best bosom buddy for makgeolli?


R: I think jeon (Korean pancake) and dubu kimchi (kimchi with tofu) are really good makgeolli side dishes.
D: Makgeolli goes well with all kinds of food, just as beer does. If Korean food is not to your liking, try drinking makgeolli with apple pie or dark chocolate. It tastes really good.
R: To find makgeolli’s bosom buddy, I drink makgeolli with this and that, but apple pie and dark chocolate are the best so far!
Living and working in a foreign country for seven years is not what many people do. Is there anything about makgeolli that made you stay in Korea longer?
D: As the excellence of makgeolli becomes known around the world, it is being exporting across the continents and gaining huge popularity. But just drinking makgeolli is not enough for us.
There are many makgeolli recipes in Korea and many of them have been forgotten, even by Korean people. Exploring these old recipes is very exciting and most of them are incredibly delicious. Unlike the makgeolli found on the market, homemade makgeolli has a special taste.

Can you give some tips to a foreigner who wants to enjoy makgeolli like you do?


R: If you want to know a lot of things about makgeolli, visit the makgeolli academy called Susubori.
You can make many foreigner friends there who enjoy makgeolli and also attend my lectures on makgeolli. Also, I’d advise you to visit the makgeolli bar Muldwinda. You can try various types of makgeolli and have a nice time.

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The Susubori Academy Mentioned by Daniel and Rebecca

Add Continuing Education Center of Kyonggi University, Chungjeongno 2-ga, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea
Tel 82-2-364-2400                Website www.susubori.ac.kr

The Susubori Academy, which Daniel and Rebecca recommended, is a traditional liquor academy. One major difference from other educational centers is that it offers a variety of lectures given by experts from the Rural Development Administration (RDA), Foundation of Agro-Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT), Korea Advanced Food Research Institute of Korea Food Industry Association (KAFRI), Woori Sul School, Korean Bartender Association (KABA), and so on. Every instructor discusses both the modern and the traditional style. Susubori Academy also offers courses in English that target foreigners. Daniel and Rebecca, who were once students of the Susubori Academy, are now the instructors of the courses conducted in English.

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Mini Interview


Hello. I am Kim Su-hyun, coordinator of Susubori Academy. I am a big fan of Korean alcohol, so I attended classes at Susubori academy and now I am working at this institute. Makgeolli changed my life. Our institution has classes teaching you how to brew makgeolli and you can make the makgeolli there that suits your taste. These days, I am busy preparing for the publication of a book in English about traditional Korean alcoholic drinks. What’s more, we are going to open a series of special classes that are available only at Susubori Academy, so don’t miss the chance!

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The Place Where Daniel and Rebecca Go to Drink Makgeolli, Muldwinda 

Add #3-12, Chungjeongno 3-ga, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea       Tel 82-2-392-4200      
Website www.muldwinda.com

Daniel and Rebecca’s favorite makgeolli bar is Muldwinda. The bar serves makgeolli produced in small breweries and doesn’t stock any mass produced makgeolli. There, you can enjoy unusual and distinctive makgeolli - different from what you can usually see in a store. The taste of makgeolli itself is unparalleled, but it tastes even more delicious if you add some side dishes. Muldwinda only sells the side dishes that follow the recipes of the director of the Buddhist Temple Food Research Center. No MSG, other chemicals, or preservatives are in Muldwinda’s side dishes. With a clean and simple taste, they are a perfect match for makgeolli.

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Mini Interview


Hi, I am Shin Yeon-woo, Creative Director of Muldwinda. Our bar serves a variety of makgeolli types. Above all, I would definitely recommend to foreigners the Ji-Pyeng-Jin makgeolli. This makgeolli is made with flour, so the taste is thick and distinctive. We also sell other traditional Korean alcoholic drinks. I think Yesan apple wine is good. It is a Korean fruit liquor prepared in the ice wine style. The distilled liquor Jebara is also delicious. Its taste is similar to that of cognac or whiskey. Makgeolli enjoys huge popularity and many foreigners come to our bar. I am studying very hard and getting advice from Daniel and Rebecca to develop the side dishes that match the preferences of our foreign customers.

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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