You've probably heard it before, "It's raining ~ let's drink makgeolli!" But why is this the battle cry whenever the heavens open?
You might notice that whenever it rains in Korea, the bars and restaurants specializing in makgeolli and pajeon become full to the rafters. You might also notice that after living in Korea for a while, even you start craving a hot, steaming pajeon with a bowl of chilled makgeolli the minute the sky gets dark.
But what's the reason behind this compulsion?
Well as with a lot of these kinds of cultural nuggets, there is no clear answer. Some theorize that the refreshing nature of alcohol and delicious fried food releases serotonin to cheer us up on a gloomy, rainy day. Others say that the rise in humidity causes a drop in blood sugar levels, causing us to crave carbohydrates found in the flour of battered jeon.
While those explanations might sound a bit dubious, there is one commonly held reason that we find to be much more romantic. As soon as the batter hits the oil in the pan, the all familiar 'hissing' sounds just like the pitter-patter of rain hitting a tin roof. So as the temperature drops a few degrees and the raindrops begin to fall, the satisfying feeling from eating pajeon and drinking makgeolli starts calling!
But if pajeon is not your thing, there are plenty of other excellent dishes that go with makgeolli on a particularly rainy day. Recently we experimented with pairing a home-made pork schnitzel and a fresh, sparkling small-batch makgeolli. To say that it was delicious would be an understatement! We have believed for a long time now in the potential for Korean alcohol to be paired with all different cuisines, and this particular match hit all the right notes.
For those who want to enjoy rainy weather with friends in a makgeolli bar, one of the best places to go is White Bear Makgeolli & Pub in Apgujeong. Not only does this bar have one of the most impressive and extensive lists of makgeolli from around the country, but they also offer incredible mungbean pancakes. These 'Binddaedeok' are also big favourites in the rainy weather, and White Bear sources the batter direct from a famous street-food stall in Gwangjang Market.
Whatever the reason behind why we drink makgeolli and eat pajeon on a rainy day, we are happy for the excuse to eat, drink and be merry!