Spice_Intro to Hansik.pdf - handout 2 AN INTRODUCTION TO...

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206 © SPICE handout 2 A N I NTRODUCTION TO H ANSIK Food is an integral part of the culture and customs of Koreans and is a source of pride for many. The Korean cuisine, called Hansik , is steeped in tradition, while also reflecting culinary and societal shifts over time. Hansik has been shaped over the centuries by Korea’s natural environment, cultural trends, desire for balance, and traditional belief systems. Korean food culture is constantly evolving and is an interesting fusion of traditional and modern influences. A Reflection of Nature Korean cuisine is a reflection of its climate, geography, and location. Korea’s four distinct seasons, varied terrain, and proximity of seas and rivers have all left their mark on Korea’s culinary culture. Fermentation, which is fundamental to Korean cuisine, was developed out of necessity for produce during the cold, harsh winters. Traditional Korean dishes are a product of the local and seasonal ingredients available. The peninsula’s valleys produce rice, beans, and vegetables; mushrooms and wild plants such as bellflower and ferns can be found in its mountainous regions; and its seas and rivers are replete with abundant seafood. While the types of seafood available depend on the region, three kinds are popular with most Koreans: dried sardines (served as a condiment with meals), dried cuttlefish (a very common snack food), and numerous varieties of seaweed. 1 A Reflection of Culture The importance of food to Koreans is evident in its many customs involving food and in its culinary culture generally. Koreans enjoy sharing a meal and feel that the experience of dining together is essential to relationships and building community. 2 Special foods, such as rice cakes, are often given as gifts on holidays. Korean ceremonies steeped in ancient tradition revolve around food and food preparation. Food is such a meaningful part of the culture that a conversation with a Korean will often lead to the question, “Have you eaten?” This custom originated long ago as a way to inquire about someone’s well being. Food has an even greater significance to the older generation of Koreans who lived through the Korean War and remember times when food was scarce and had to be rationed. Even though food is no longer in short supply in South Korea, older Koreans are typically still concerned with the health of young people and are often encouraging others, especially young family members and guests, to eat. 3 A Korean meal, bansang , consists of rice and soup and several side dishes, banchan , which always include kimchi. Each person at the dining table is served his or her own bowl of rice and bowl of soup along with metal chopsticks and a spoon. The small side dishes and stew (if served) are placed in the center of the table for everyone to share. Korean is the fermentation : the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat bellflower : a plant with bell-shaped flowers
KOREAN CULTURE 207 handout 2

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