Colorful Korean Meal


Various forms of contemporary kimchi. National Institute of Korean Language [CC BY-SA 2.5]

Across the northern hemisphere, this is the time of year for harvest festivals. In Germany, Oktoberfest 2019 is in its final week. Two weeks ago, South Koreans celebrated ChuseokI claim no expertise in Korean culture or cuisine but have a few colorful memories of Korean food.

Start with green and white cabbage. Cabbage is preserved by fermentation, both in Asian and in Europe. In Korea, instead of sauerkraut, a mild dish, you get kimchi. Driving through the hilly Korean countryside north of Seoul, I noticed very large plastic sheets laid out on the sides of the road, near farming houses. They were covered, covered with small bright red chili peppers, laid out to dry. These would form the fiery base of the spices that separate kimchi from sauerkraut. There are many other possible ingredients, but you can usually expect orange carrots, green and white scallions, and white radish, ginger, and garlic.

As there are many salsas, including all the family recipes, so there are many sorts of kimchi. There is even a Museum Kimchikan, celebrating the history of the food. Mostly, though, we think of whole-leaf kimchi. You will find this in every Korean restaurant, and several varieties in any market that includes a significant Korean food section. You can even make it yourself, but do pay close attention to the safety instructions! You must wear a long pair of rubber/latex gloves, of the sort sold for kitchen cleaning. Or you will pay for it with pain from the chili paste.

This time of year, the terraced rice fields have dried out, the tops of the rice gleaming a golden straw color. Because the Korean farmers work much smaller fields than agribusiness in America, the mechanical harvester is of a much smaller scale. In fact, the first word that came to my North American mind was “Zamboni!” The ice-resurfacing machine and the rice harvester are similar in outline and seem close in scale.

You definitely want rice as a base under the kimchi, if nothing else. Kimchi is not so much a “side” as an integral part of a meal. A South Korean (ROK) Army officer invited me to his home for dinner, during the break day in the middle of a large command post exercise. His wife laid out about ten smaller dishes in the middle of the family table. We added what we liked to our plates, on or alongside the rice. I remember yellow, orange, purple, green, white, and red. Along with soup and rice, these dishes, called banchan, were the meal.


Here is a recipe, with each step illustrated, for “traditional napa cabbage kimchi called tongbaechu-kimchi, a.k.a., baechu-kimchi or pogi-kimchi.” If that is a bit daunting, this video, by the same woman, walks you through “easy kimchi:”

Still a bit much for you, either in the prep time required or in the spicy heat? Here is a simple recipe for sauerkraut, much easier to make than kimchi.

A note on thanksgiving: The fall harvest festival is the common heritage of all Koreans. In what has been North Korea for nearly seven decades, the holiday appears to be called by an older name, “Han’gawi.” Appears, because there is virtually no information available. Plug “Han’gawi Holiday” or “Chuseuk North Korea” into your favorite search engine, even, and you will find colorful images of plenty … in South Korea. At most, I found a story or so of how the people in North Korea are now able to have a small celebration and were not starving at the time of the articles.

If the North Korean dictator was really interested in strength through popular legitimacy, there would be public celebrations prominently broadcast. So, think on Korea, north and south, and on Venezuela, before and after. As Americans prepare for tons of candy and the increasingly elaborate adult frivolity of Halloween, then press on towards our own massive Thanksgiving travel and feasting, it is worth remembering that these are the blessings of liberty, secured by those who would defend it. Yes, “천만에요 (cheonmaneyo) Korea,” and “bitte sehr, Germany;” you’re welcome, courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 10 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    I’m tidying up the September 2019 Group Writing Theme posts list: “Autumn Colors.” We are now starting October’s theme: “Trick or Treat!” Treat yourself to a post, nothing tricky about it. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #1
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey

    This post makes me hungry. Very nice, CAB. I didn’t know any of this. 

    By now, though, hunger-wise, we’ve already switched over. To the month of Halloween candy. 

    • #2
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    This post makes me hungry. Very nice, CAB. I didn’t know any of this. 

    By now, though, hunger-wise, we’ve already switched over. To the month of Halloween candy. 

    I’m sure we’ll solve that hunger thing with an overdose of candy corn, chocolate malt eyeballs, and gummi worms.

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge

    I just had breakfast, now I’m hungry again.  Thanks a lot!

    • #4
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    I added a brief postscript, as I realized I ignored that large part of Korea that does not get to whip up all sorts of tasty food almost any time.

    • #5
  6. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    Dang, this post made me hanker for some “regular” kimchi (lettuce/cabbage based), and all the other kimchi pickles.  And bulgogi.

    …mmm, bulgogi.

    • #6
  7. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive

    My grandmother made her own kim chi.

    The idea of buying kim chi was completely foreign to her. 

    I also recommend korean barley tea for its health benefits.

    My grandmother was born in 1920 and still living today (near Seoul).


    • #7
  8. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive

    I’m not trying to discourage anyone from Korean bbq…

    everything in moderation…

    South Korea has the highest or 2nd highest rate of gastric cancer in the world (after Japan)


    • #8
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    It has been pointed out to me, pointedly, that I missed the obvious cultural connection here. There is exactly one piece of music that cries out for inclusion in this post. Herein I remedy my oversight:

    • #9
  10. Robert E. Lee Member
    Robert E. Lee

    I like kimchi.  You left out Dave Carter’s favorite Korean food, squid.

    • #10
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.