Cookbook recommendation: Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History by Michael J. Pettid
I have been asked to recommend books on Korean history, cuisine and cookery from time to time. I don’t own many Korean cookbooks because, in my opinion, most of them publish the same basic recipes such as bulgogi, kalbi and kimchi.
The repetition can be mind-numbing, especially if you already know the basics of Korean food and want to branch out and learn something new. I have become pretty picky about which cookbooks I buy with my limited budget.
The kind of cookbooks I love to read over and over again are the cookbooks that give you the history of a recipe as well as the how-to. Because there are so many Korean cookbooks out there, I decided several years ago that my “holy grail” of Korean cuisine books would be the first book I found that had a recipe for Chuncheon dakkalbi.
Chuncheon is a relatively small city by Korean standards, with about 250,000 people. It’s the provincial capital of Gangwon province, a rural region in northeastern South Korea relatively unknown outside of Asia. Chuncheon dakkalbi isn’t a recipe the general public wanting to make Korean food for the first time would demand or miss.
I found what I was looking for in Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History by Michael J. Pettid, assistant professor of Korean and Korean Literature in the Department of German, Russian and East Asian Languages at State University of New York in Binghamton.
I knew I had found a book that endeavored to explain and discuss all the cuisine of Korea, not just the big-city cuisine of Seoul, Busan and Pyongyang. That makes it worth every penny and it holds a special place in my Korean culture library.