Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Food, Dessert and Alcohol in South Korea

Food, Dessert and Alcohol in South Korea Some high points of the article: 1. Portion sizes are smaller in Korea than in the USA. (Actually most of the world keeps their portion sizes smaller than we do in the USA, but that's a topic for another day.)
This is because Koreans are heavily into portion control in attempts to steer clear of the obesity epidemic. In short, expect 4 oz. drinks and smaller food portions than you are use to.
Actually, it has little to do with modern concerns about obesity. Korean portions have always been smaller and focused on a wide variety of fresh, lightly cooked or fermented vegetables.
Korea Times Photo by Sohn Yong-seok
2. Koreans love their cuisine and want the world to love it, too. The current Korean government has made Korean cuisine (hansik) promotion a very high priority. South Korea's Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has appointed singer/actor Rain to help present Korea's cusine in the best light. Korea's First Lady Kim Yoon-ok has set up her own hansik promotion committee as well, which includes the head of South Korea's Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and actor/restaurateur Bae Yong Joon.
Koreans are quite proud of their food. The traditional meal consists of hot soup (with lots of fish and/or vegetables), rice, kimchi and other small side dishes.
3. Learn to use thin metal chopsticks. Koreans are perfectly happy to use the most complicated style of chopsticks in Asia to put food into their mouths.
South Korea is the only country that eats with metal chopsticks. Most Asian countries use chopsticks, but only of the wooden variety. Metal chopsticks are heavier and considered more difficult to use. With a little practice, though, even the most Western Westerner can become quite skilled at using them
4. Korean food is inexpensive, but not cheap.
Price wise, Korean food is very inexpensive. Two people can eat on the street for less than 7500W. If you cook most of your meals at home and avoid large quantities of red meat, Western food and packaged foods, you can get by on 40,000-80,000 won of food per week.
5. Traditional Korean cuisine doesn't include very sweet desserts. Some people call Korean dishes served at the end of the meal "dessert", not because they are sweet but because they signal the end of the meal. However, don't tell me Koreans don't have a sweet tooth. Convenience stores in Korean have rows of shelves filled with Choco-pies and other sweets and bakeries have become very popular.
Koreans often skip out on the dessert at meals, so don't expect a piece of pie when you've finished! Their traditional dessert, rice cake, is not very sweet. I suggest giving it a try, though most Western mouths aren't too fond of it.
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