Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sook (숙) tripping

KwandongAlex was scratching his head yesterday so we cleaned and reloaded the humidifier, figuring the air was dry. Just before we connected the tank to the humidifier, Kwandongmotherinlaw brought out some broth to add to the tank.

The broth was dark brown; it reminded me of consomme. I'm not a fan of hanyak (Korean home remedies) but in Canada we might have added some sort of menthol (Vicks was the first choice at my house) so I didn't mind.

In the middle of the night, I was hot, I was cold, I was dizzy and having some strange dreams. Eventually I turned off the humidifier.

I woke up with basically a hangover. It was then that I learned the broth was Sook tea.

Probably there is no connection but I remember hearing that Korea's sook (a roadside weed) is very similar to Absinthe, a European plant. Is absinthe the same thing as wormwood? Anyway, the European version is infamous as a hallucinatory drug that can cause madness.

I guess I had better beware of cravings for humid air for the next while!

Oh, I learned about sook from Steve Roney. He used to run tours in Seoul but I beleive is back home in Canada now. His site is/was mysterytours.

4 comments:

Masuro said...

쑥 is indeed absinthe/wormwood though I'm not sure if it's the same variety we have here in Korea. I've always wanted to try absinthe since I read about it in Hemingway.

Nomad said...

Merry Christmas, Brian.

skindleshanks said...

Okay, correct me if I'm wrong, but 쑥 is also translated mugwort, is it not? Not sure if there are more than one kind, but I was under the impression that it was a relatively mild medicine, providing the green coloring in some kinds of 떡.(Of course, a lot of places cheat and use food coloring.)
Wikipedia says that it can cause a "dreamy state of consciousness," and can be smoked like marijuana. I've often thought I smelled marijuana or sweetgrass burning in Korea--must have been mugwort.

On an unrelated note, I've got a sore throat that's been nagging me for a month now--where is fisherman's friend when you need it?

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Brian.

kwandongbrian said...

Skindleshanks,
There is at least one pharmacy in Sokcho that sells Fisherman's Friend. It's a relatively large one (for Korea) on the main street near the United Colours of Benneton for Kids store. Stick with the original stuff; I tried 'refreshing lemon Fisherman's friend' and it's terrible!

I think Ssook is mugwort as well. I have certainly smelled the grassy smoke here in Korea but I don't know what it is.