The Dog Days

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*Warning: this post contains references to eating dog meat every…1.5 sentences or so, so those who are currently offended by such practices or think they might be while reading this post might be better off skipping this. Or maybe they’ll learn something about the food practices of a different culture. It isn’t that bad, really. Okay, it might be a little bad. Horrifying for others. It’s up to you, really.

It’s hilarious that these few weeks of July and August are called the dog days in Western culture. Sure, it may have come from the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star, during this period, but it’s an interesting bit of cultural convergence that the Western dog days overlap with the Korean dog days, or boknal. Which are usually translated to dog days because they coincide with the Western dog days and, well, guess what Koreans traditionally eat on those days? Continue reading

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The Korean Melon

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I like to think that I’m an omnivorous eater. There are very few foods that I will absolutely refuse to eat. Having said that, there are some foods that I would prefer not to eat, mostly because I don’t think they’re particularly tasty and I could easily find a better alternative on the menu. Overrated might be the word I’m looking for. The Korean melon is one such food. Continue reading

SPAM

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People have, at times, called me a “food snob.” I can see why they might think that. I do enjoy from time to time high quality food substances that the vast majority of consumers have rarely heard of. But a lot of the things that I also enjoy would be grounds for revoking my foodie club membership card. Swedish fish, McDonald’s chicken nuggets, french fries with mashed potatoes, etc etc. Of course among this hypertension-inducing Justice League of junk foods there is a first among equals, a Superman of edible but unhealthy substances that I refuse to give up. Yes, it’s that salty gelatinous pork composite in a blue and yellow tin that has captured the hearts and stomaches of many Asian countries and in particular, Korea. I’m talking about Spam. After all, you can’t spell Superman without Spam. Continue reading

Gimbap

2014-05-29 13.39.49When I was traveling in Europe this past month (yes, I’ll be milking this for as long as I can), I enjoyed a lot of nice sit down meals at restaurants with wine and all that jazz, but sometimes I needed a quick bite. There were always places selling sandwiches nearby. These sandwiches were cheap, filled with delicious local ingredients that couldn’t be easily replicated anywhere else, and could easily be eaten while walking around and taking in the sights. Seoul does have a fairly ubiquitous sandwich consisting of ham, fried egg, and shredded cabbage on buttered toast, but it isn’t really distinctive like the sandwiches in Spain and Italy were. I started to think that it was a shame that Seoul didn’t have the same sort of iconic sandwich like Madrid’s bocadillo de calamares or Rome’s panino con porchetta that that tourists could look for. But then it occurred to me that I was going about this in a completely wrong manner. Korea didn’t need to have some kimchi and Spam sandwich to market to tourists (although I certainly wouldn’t say no to that idea), it already had a perfectly good substitute that is cheap, local, and can be eaten on the fly. And that’s gimbap. Continue reading