Friday, November 06, 2009

Kimchi: The Plot Thickens

For my one year Korea Anniversary, I had two special treats:

1) The visit of friend, and former Coda coworker, Scotty P

and 2) the annual Kimchi Festival.

I quote now from the Kimchi Festival brochure:
"What would have thought that the side dish of kimchi would seen such time? Ending of the problems to world? That solve would it? economy? death hunger? globally warmed? Well that just!"*

*(Actually, this more of a paraphrase than a quote. In fact, I lost the brochure, but I'm pretty sure it said something a lot like this.)**

**(No, it wasn't really like this at all. The only poor English as I recall was a run-on sentence and some odd punctuation.)

Though I am not sure of the truths contained within the brochure, these are the things I -think- I know about kimchi:

-Kimchi is made of cabbage, radish, or greens. When people think of kimchi they most likely think of the cabbage kind. I'm pretty sure there are other kinds, but I'm still in confusion about this.

-It comes fresh, fermented for a few months or for as long as 2 years.

-It is most often made with red pepper, salt, and some assortment of other stuff depending on the province where it is made. For instance, this province (Jeolla-nam-do) usually uses some fish parts. This is sometimes detectable and sometimes not. There is white kimchi, made without red pepper, however I have only seen this once during my year long tenure.

-It is rare that a meal should not include kimchi as a side dish regardless of the entre and time of day. When I ask my students what they had for breakfast, it is most often kimchi and rice. They never seem to say this with any discontentment in their voice.

-Traditionally kimchi is buried in the ground to ferment. Now, many homes have dedicated kimchi refrigerators for this purpose.

-Some families regularly get together once a year for kimchi making. This seems to happen in the late fall to early winter.

-Many natives believe that the heads of foreigners, who dare to eat kimchi, will explode due to the extreme flavor and unprecedented spiciness. In reality though, most foreigners heads do not explode and the owners of those heads find kimchi to be merely pleasantly spiced and having a somewhat unique flavor.

-The fermented stuff is supposed to be good for you as it is an antioxidant.

-Kimchi does not photograph well and looking at pictures of kimchi makes me want it less and less.

I can say that my favorite is cabbage, with red pepper, of the super fermented variety. I have had some raddish kimchi that's quite good too. If you have not had somebody's mom's homemade kimchi after a few months of fermentation, do not be too hasty with your judgement.
Being less than content with my understanding of kimchi,  I was excited for the clarification that the Kimchi Festival might bring. I recieved the following as pictured here-


Feeling a tad overwhelmed at the wonder that is kimchi, Scott and I retreated to the parking lot to ride our butterflycles.


Blogger adam said...

I have been struck with some serious kimchi yearning. You realize it will stay with you for the rest of your life, don't you?

8:56 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I am prepared for that eventuality.

So, if the hankerin' is indeed that strong I suppose we'll be seeing you back here soon for longer than a month? (Yes, you can get something called Kimchi in the states but it's just not the same.)

4:36 AM  

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