Elwood 5566

A Squirt of Fusion

Posted in Comparative by 노강호 on September 22, 2010

So scrumptious.....roast pork and roast potatoes

Every now and then I like a little blow out, partly as I love food and secondly, because I miss food associated with British culture. Unfortunately, few Korean foods fulfill the requirements necessary to satisfy the cultural preferences of my British palate. Flour, potato, oil, butter, bread, milk and cheese,  plus copious quantities  of meat, are  missing from most Korean meals.  Though I love Korean food, most can be described as ‘just…’ (그냥), meaning  okay, satisfying, but not scrumptious. Of course, this is just my personal opinion and some waygukin may actually think a few bean sprouts chucked in boiling water compares to  delights of Thai, Tom Yum or New England Clam Chowder.

bean sprout soup (콩나물 국)

I have attended a number of ‘feasts’ in Korea and find the word as much an exaggeration as  is the description ‘delicious.’  All too often Koreans will describe something as ‘delicious,’ but the moment your hypothetically offer them a choice between what ever the topic is and a Big Mac, and the Big Mac usually wins. Ironically, the Big Mac isn’t even a delicious example of a hamburger. Yesterday, one of my students told me he ‘loved’ bean sprout ‘soup’ (콩나물 국) and that it is ‘delicious’, but considering the boy is a little chubby, I suspect if it were a choice between bean sprout ‘soup’ or fried chicken, he’d choose the chicken. The Korean ‘feasts’ I have experienced could only be deemed such if you were on the brink of starvation, which is their possible origins, and comprised of the typical ‘just’ category foods such as: seaweed soup, five grain rice, and various kimchi. Sorry, but when you’re told your going to a ‘feast’ and your fed boring ban-chan (side dishes), it’s a bit of an anti-climax.

For most of my life in Korean, my cultural urges lay dormant and I find great satisfaction and pleasure in Korean cuisine but every so often I feel compelled to satiate deeper cravings and will seek out possible alternatives.

Pizza, unless it’s from Pizza Hut, Dominoes or Vince is usually disappointing; the cheese is that stretchy crap with no flavour. I once ordered a pizza with the cheese piped in the crust but when it arrived saw it was a ‘well being’ version. I order pizza so infrequently that when I do want one I don’t want ‘well being.’ Worse, the cheese had been made healthy by adulterating it with sweet potato. When Koreans make a pizza, the final touch always seems to involve squirting it with an assortment of gunk and sweet mustard and jam like sauces are all in vogue. And the final insult to any pizza, a perversion, are fruit toppings. Vince Pizza, which actually makes a fairly okay pizza, makes one topped with fruit. In Korea, with toppings such as bulgogi and sweet potato, often subsequently squirted in sweet gunk, the pizza is the epitome of fusion food.

cheese-less cheese

A pizza squirted in sweet gunk

Occasionally I like a sandwich though mayonnaise is always a requirement as this replaces the lack of butter. However, I have to keep  a close eye out as my local GS25 occasionally adds jam to a ham, ‘cheese’ and salad sandwich.

Corn Dog, isn’t too bad until it’s dunked in sugar and squirted with tomato sauce.

Pork Cutlet, don-gasse (돈까스) is one food that often quells my urges. This food originates from Japan where it is  called tonkatsu but considering the German influence on Japanese 19th century society,  I wonder if its origins are Germanic. Tonkatsu first appeared in Japan in the late 19th century and is similar to jagerchnitzel and Wiener schnitzel. It has been further fusionised by the addition, in the center,  of that stretchy cheese-less cheese, and often, on the edge of the plate. an adornment of tinned, diced fruit.

Don-gasse (Tonkatsu - 돈까스) Recipe link via photo (in Korea)

Korean style - 돈까스

Ironically, if I’m absent from Korean food for too long, I begin to suffer a  pon farr like yearning for kimchi, and more unusual Korean Fayre.

Creative Commons License© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

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