게시물 상세

One-Liner Quotes

 

Korean Food Critic’s Pick

Korea's Food Books

 

2022.02.14

 

?

?

 

Food is the mirror of the past and present. Trending foods show the era's social structure and direction. Luxurious sushi restaurants that boast high popularity are often located in the Gangnam area. This shows Koreans' love of sushi but also disconnection from ties with Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with sushi restaurants, Korea's old Korean-Western restaurants located all over the country are cherished remnants of Korea's modern history after its independence. It also captures time in the place as people's old tastes remains in the meals they serve.
Like Cho Yeong-Gwon's previous book Chinese Cuisine in Korea (CABOOKS), he recollects his experience visiting old Korean-Western restaurants in At a Korean-Western Restaurant. The writer has a unique job as a piano tuner, which is well reflected throughout his book. The food pictures taken from the same angle are not as impressive as an expert's work. However, enjoying drinks and food in a single common angle shows his job as a tuner who pursues 'harmony' in the instruments he touches. His works do so as well. Like how the note ‘Doh’ should sound like ‘Doh’, the author never exaggerates the food he eats. Restaurants he visits also show his character. As a piano tuner with 28 years of experience, the author sticks to an old method of tuning by using a tuning fork than a cutting-edge tuning device. The restaurants he finds are also places that keep their old form where time seems to have stopped. He prefers those old ones to fancy restaurants with a long list of customers. How the author finds his restaurants is simple. He visits where he marked in his note after finishing his daily job. The book's structure is similar to the Japanese cartoon Lonely Gourmet. However, his book does not get boring as the writer describes his journey in a calm manner, with no frills, and without exaggeration.
Korean-Western restaurants emerged after Korea's independence. They sell meals that need to be cut by knife, like pork cutlet or beef cutlet, and serve bread and soup before the main dish is out. Eating outside was a luxury in the past, and Korean-Western restaurants used to be the place people visited on special occasions, such as entrance or graduation ceremonies. It was a place people would enjoy their special moments just like how they used to visit Korea-Chinese restaurants. Having a dish with a knife and a fork instead of chopsticks was a rare experience back in the day. Though the choice was only between a slice of bread or a bowl of rice, Korean-Western restaurants were as the place where an individual choice was considered. Now, the food from those restaurants brings back old memories. The restaurants still have chefs who hold onto their knives even while their youth is gone. Even some people seek to find restaurants served by old chefs. The scenery taken with a wide lens flows along with the lives forgotten throughout our lives in old Korean-Western restaurants.
“A proud Chef who devoted his whole life to the kitchen with 50-years of experience. In a world where changes are too fast to catch up with, what do 50 years mean to people of today? I also devoted my time to a job. Acoustic musical instruments are hard to find nowadays. Will piano turners still exist 50 years from now? I don't think so. Regardless, the coffee here tastes wonderful." p.92.

 

?

?

 

Jjajangmyeon resembles curry in the UK in many ways. Curry is a well-known Indian dish. Since it was first introduced to England, curry has become one of the most favored foods for many. However, the curry's taste in the UK is different from that of India. The UK uses dairy products, such as butter, more than India, making the food taste milder. There is even the UK's unique curry, known as butter chicken curry. It is a modification of a curry called Chicken Tikka Masala. The base ingredient is tomato sauce, and butter is added to meet UK people's taste. Jjajangmyeon has a history similar to curry. The food originated from Zhajiangmian, a Chinese dish that stir-fries meat and vegetables to fermented soybean paste. The looks of both Zhajiangmian and Jjajangmyeon may be similar, but they taste different. Jjajangmyeon was introduced to Korea as many Chinese workers migrated to Incheon in the late 19th century. As Japan colonized Korea, the food also changed, adding some Japanese food ingredients. In the military dictatorship era, Jjajangmyeon was included in the price index and was pressured not to increase in price. Due to such movements, Chinese immigrants who made Jjajangmyeon in Korea lost their economic foundation during the era. Since apartments had been widely adopted, Jjajangmyeon became a staple as a delivery food. Seeing the history of Jjajangmyeon, we can see that it has stayed near us, changing along with our history.
Chef Park Chan-Il’s recent book Jjajangmyeon: How Grateful It Is to have a Double Portion Serving shows diverse aspects of Jjajangmyeon's history as he talks about his life. As a chef would do, the author writes the recipe on China and Korea's Jjajangmyeon in the book. The recipe is what differentiates his book from others written by ordinary writers or professors. Jjajangmyeon was described by a person whose life depends on the object rather than out of academic interest or personal preference. Jjajangmyeon is fast food in Korea, but the process required to make it is not that simple. You have to go through various steps: Chop onions, stir-fry the chopped onions in Tianmian sauce, hand-pull noodles, and so on. The series of processes one has to endure to make Jjajangmyeon takes a chunk of a person's life after many repetitions. After years and years of hard work, the young boy's arm becomes that of a bread winner's. People who enjoy Jjajangmyeon also age as they eat Jjajangmyeon throughout their lives. A Chinese restaurant one used to go to while holding their parent's hands becomes a place for an elderly person who enjoys a drink along with a bowl of Jjajangmyeon.
Food is an object of joy and a tool for living to the author. It is also something that makes people live and reflect on themselves. Jjajangmyeon, the author's favorite food, encompasses all the aforementioned factors. The writer says a bowl of Jjajangmyeon with evenly cut cucumber is trustworthy as the chef poured time and effort into cutting a cucumber. However, he may not have had much time to spend on a single dish. Jjajangmyeon: How Grateful It Is to have a Double Portion Serving is what a reader can rely on. The book is like a bowl of Jjajangmyeon. Even if it is not written elaborately, the piece is like a wrinkled shirt that can be seen anywhere but describes something that is always in our hearts. The author shows his love towards Jjajangmyeon in his writing. Our life is bland rather than colorful and is simple rather than grandiose like Jjajangmyeon. The author's love and interest in people are not so much different from his passion and affection towards food.
“I feel very special when I have a bowl of Jjajangmyeon that has even, soft, and crunchy cucumber cut by a professional chef. The cucumber gives me trust that the restaurant will be good at every food it makes. Of course, some chefs might think that cucumber is not much of a big deal and that they can chop it without thinking. But I believe it's worth betting on a chef who cares about ornamental cucumber than one who does not care about tiny details in food." p.155.

 

 


Written by Jeong Dong-Hyun (Food Critic)

 

kbbok

Jeong Dong-Hyun (Food Critic)

#Food Critic#At a Korean-Western Restaurant#Jjajangmyeon#Cho Yeong-Gwon#Park Chan-Il
If you liked this article, share it with others. 페이스북트위터블로그인쇄

Pre Megazine