We’re addicted to the Food Network because we’re amateur foodies who believe deeply that food is the gateway for most people to learn about other cultures. I’m always amazed when I find people who are closed-minded about trying different types of cuisines, and I’ve always lived by the rule that if somewhere in the world, someone eats a dish, I’m willing to try it… at least once. Living by this rule, I’ve had some funky food, including insects, plants that you wouldn’t think are edible, slimy sea creatures that I’m not sure other sea creatures would eat, and animal parts that would probably make a PETA supporter faint.
We love all kinds of cuisines from around the world, and obscure indigenous specialties from around the U.S. One of our favorites is Korean cuisine. You can trace a lot of Japanese culture to China or Korea, including food. Yakiniku, grilled marinated thin-sliced beef, is Korean bulgogi (my favorite). Gyoza dumplings are either Chinese potstickers or Korean mandu. Kimchi is, well, it’s a purely Korean original: Pickled napa cabbage that’s deeply infused with hot chili pepper and briny salt. It’s a staple of Korean cuisine, an ubiquitous side dish, delicious and really healthy to boot. My mouth starts watering just thinking about it.
Erin and I even cooked up our own Soon Doobu Jjigae spicy tofu soup one night, and look forward to trying more Korean recipes.
Growing up in Japan, we had kimchi pretty regularly. My mom used to make it (she hardly cooks anything anymore) when I was a kid. Its pungent odor would fill the house and embarrass me once we moved to the states if my white high school buddies visited, but I even got my giant football player friend Bubba to try kimchi. Like some other Asian dishes, it doesn’t taste as stinky as it smells.
A new PBS series, “Kimchi Chronicles,” explores the richness of Korean food in a fascinating way that’s part-travelogue, part food program and part a journey about identity. The series has been rolling out in some markets, but here in Denver it premieres July 2 on Rocky Mountain PBS (Channel 12 in Denver)
What makes the show so intriguing to me is the star, Marja Vongerichten, who is wife of superstar New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.