Monday, July 13, 2009

Stereotyping ourselves? on garlic and chili peppers

candied lotus root and carrot, Korean tea food

It was pleasure to see someone with Korean Background competing for the spot in major TV: Debbie in the next food network star season 5. However, I can not help cringing whenever she says "because I am Korean" in the same sentence with chili peppers and garlic.

lotus root stewed in soy sauce

That is not always true. chili peppers and garlic do not represent entire Korean cuisine as they do not for the Mexican culinary culture. Yes, it has big influence and seemingly ubiquitous but it is just part of Story. Korean style BBQ and Kimchi was most popular. But that is not the whole story.

Korean food can be and it IS quite subtle. For the many spring greens, the seasoning kept minimum, in order to the taste of spring greens to shine. It is true for the root vegetables, too. There are countless food that does not involve either garlic or chili peppers or even heavy seasonings. Best example is found in various Buddhist temples in Korea.

chilled noodle in soybean broth

I wish, only wish, it is known to outside of Korea as much as BBQs and kimchi.
And my fellow Koreans, let's think about stereotype that we hold about ourselves. This is not the first time I encountered stereotyping of ourselves. Self-image is important. It is part of identity. However, the self-image should grow with the discovery of new side of 'self', both as a person or as an ethnic group. Let's don't judge ourselves too quick. It does not leave room for the new realization of culture that we built and adored for several thousands years.


mina said...

i do love chili peppers and garlic, but of course you're right. there is so much more to korean cuisine than heat! your post has inspired me to make some more mild dishes this summer... as long as i can find the ingredients here. (:

KJ said...

I wish a good luck your ingredient shopping. I also find difficult to get some Korean ingredient even in Boston!