If it can be said that Bengalis cannot survive without “daalbhaat” in the same note it may be said that Koreans cannot survive without “khimchi and rice”. For Koreans you add “Bulgogi” to it and for Bengalis you add “Machhertorkari”.
It was worth the visit to South Korea on Korean Foundation’s invitation. People know Korea for Samsung, Kia, Hyundai, LG, et al. But who knows about their culture, heritage and the simple thing as their weather. In the month of March, when spring is in the air, the temperature is in the range of -3 to -7 degree Celsius.
And in that weather their preference in “khimchee and rice”?!! Our experience of cold countries is that in that sort of weather, one must have bread and meat. Plain bread loaf, pita bread, croissant, and naan of all shapes and size. How does one relate cold weather to rice?
Yes “Rice” it is for the Koreans as well as Bulgogi. Marinated sliced beef in soya sauce, garlic, cabbage, etc. The sliced meat marinated overnight and then grilled over direct fire. Grilled beef by itself is a delight and sometime you put the grilled beef in a broth of cabbage and onions which makes a sumptuous main dish of Bulgogi. You have this Bulgogi with sticky rice.
In our visit to a folk village (now modeled in a huge setting) – we saw large pitchers where khimchee is made. These large pitchers used to store the khimchee in olden days and allowed it to ferment over time. Once fermented, the pitchers were placed under the ground. Fermented food (just like yogurt) helps you to digest well.
“Since ancient times, the Korean people have maintained a belief that food and medicine have the same origin and hence perform the same function, following the adage that ‘food is the best medicine’. They believe that health and illness alike come from the food they consume and how they eat it, and this idea has played a crucial role in the development of traditional Korean medicine whose basic principle is that we should use medicine only after food has failed.”
Koreans have come a long way. Their style in clothes – “world class western”!! It may be easily said that they have given up their traditional clothes. Except, of course, for special occasions. But food is something any nation would give up the last or not at all. Rather the Italians have taken Pizzas to China, Americans have taken Hamburgers to India and pastas will be children’s favourite the world over.
And before you know it, Bulgogi is coming your way to become your everyday food. And there is so much more.
Talk about street food. Nutella and sliced bananas wrapped in a pancake like spread, fruits (strawberry, grapes et al arranged in a row like popsicles, many pitha like stuff, an artwork by itself and then there are huge rice masala chips and not to mention the omlette/chapti like stuff. I wished I had tasted them ALL. But watching the waistline is one other thing I have to look out for.
Just as we are so fond of our “bhaatmaachh”, Koreans too are fond of their rice and Bulgogi.
Want to try? You could die for it!!