Besides learning Korean- the language and its culture- what I was most excited about coming to Korea was the food. In the scope of the wide variety of meals and dishes that are considered part of Korean cuisine, I’ve only ever had a taste of Korean food from the one Korean restaurant in my town and the one time my Korean language professor cooked for my class and me- 감사합니다 강선생생님! From my point of view of Korean food, it entails a wide variety of preparing rice, meats, and vegetables. From an impressive array of different side dishes (반찬)- which includes the every-meal companion kimchi (김치)- to well-marinated mouth-watering meats ((고기), to the simple-yet-essential bowl of white rice (밥).
Depending on what you order, the taste of Korean food can also be either spicy (매운), salty (짠), refreshing (시원한), warming (따뜻한), bitter (쓴), or sweet (단). I especially enjoy when it is spicy and it’s great that Korean food usually does have a bit of a kick. Therefore dishes like sundubu jjigae (순두부 찌개) and dwaeji jjim galbi (돼지찜갈비) are absolutely delicious and also made a great lunch for my friend and I!
A very exciting and delicious meal I’ve had here was going to a Korean barbeque restaurant. Even though there are KBBQ restaurants in Chicago, I had never had the chance to go. So it was something that I had to do while I was in Korea- to experience it 100% authentically. It was great fun to also go with a huge group of people because we just ordered a lot of food and drinks and shared a lot of laughs all around. The experience of cooking our own food was very interesting, too, and food took up all the table space.
The main entrees I’ve been eating here in Korea aren’t the only things that have made my mouth water, though. Desserts and sweets here in Korea are refreshing, sweet, and scrumptious as they are made very pretty. With some of the new friends I’ve made in the program, I tried for the first time a shaved ice dessert called bingsoo (빙수), which traditionally is shaved ice flakes with red bean to top and make a sweet and refreshing treat. However, as Korea has come to fully embraces international influence while holding onto such traditions and national customs, bingsoo has evolved into the fruity and/or chocolate-y creations that I’ve eaten. The green tea chocolate brownie bingsoo was especially delicious and perfect for the very hot weather of the Korean summertime.
Just as America has its own take on Chinese food, so does Korea! Dishes like jjajangmyeon (짜장면) and jjambbong (짬뽕) are popular Korean interpretation of Chinese cuisine.
It’s not only the food itself but also the experience of eating and dining that has been very different from what it’s like in
America. I would say that Korean eating- at least eating out- is fast, it’s more self-interactive, but it’s nonetheless very enjoyable. There are just so many
restaurants everywhere, and many are independent as there are chains, so every day one could go to a different restaurant, eat something different or at least different versions of classic or unique Korean dishes. And then there are cafes EVERYWHERE. Seriously, everywhere. A nice cafe (카페) and- stereotypically- an iced Americano (아이스드 아메리카노) is a perfect end to a satisfying meal.
읽어 주셔서 감사합니다!