Ask a Korean: Why do Expats Teaching in Korea Think Korean Food is Weird?

Maybe because they grew up eating spray cheese on crackers?

“All of which are American dreams…”

Doh, that was me!

Gentle Reader, while searching for kindred Korean food blogs on the world-wide web, I have been coming upon blogs written by Western expats teaching in Korea who opine the strangeness of Korean food.  And I kind of puke a little every time I come upon these posts all with the same gist: “Ewww, look at this strange food they eat over here!”

Cheese in a can aside, I have a few theories on this tendency towards ridiculously clichéd responses to the foods Koreans eat:

Theory #1:  Fear of the Other leads to cultural ignorance

Lack of cultural understanding leads to cultural arrogance and ignorance.

My Aunt is my history


Delve into the history of the country in which you’re living and working, in this case, Korea. Read on the three major kingdoms that dominated Korea and how they influence current day politics, economics, and social mores. Explore why it was called the Hermit Kingdom for so long and know that the harsh period of Japanese occupation has its lasting influences on food and social culture (even if it’s hard to admit).  Be mindful that the continued tragedy of the two Koreas, North and South, really has done a number on the Koreans of both sides, while the never-ending American military occupation in the South comes with dark and ugly ramifications e.g. Hooker Hill, violence against women, rejected interracial children, etc. For a small country, there’s a lot of issues…

Theory #2: Persistence of colonial attitudes (or religious dogma) breeds a false sense of superiority

Don’t get caught up in dogma, religious or otherwise, or you’ll be forever trapped in your own self-righteousness.

Oliver Cromwell.  ‘Nuff said.

History says that God was not on his side


Be a culinary adventurer in the country where you’re living and working, in this case Korea.  Be thankful that you are in a place of culinary prowess, a place where people know how to make the most with the little they got.  Korean food embodies the true spirit of stone soup: Put it in the pot and make room for one more.

Ultimately, think before you blog.  That goes for all of us.

Spray Cheese & Cracker Snack

The ingredients

1 can of Easy Cheese

1 sleeve of saltines or cracker of your choosing

The steps

1. Spray a dollop of cheese on your cracker in a circular motion.

2. Sit in front of TV switched on to CHiPS or Charlie’s Angels and enjoy.

Postscript: I have had great luck in finding some good blogs that feature Korean food and if you’re interested in checking them out take a gander at the links listed under “What I’m Checking Out” on this blog’s homepage.


3 thoughts on “Ask a Korean: Why do Expats Teaching in Korea Think Korean Food is Weird?

  1. Pingback: Down These Mean Streets | DIY Korean Food

  2. Pingback: Yellow Peril | DIY Korean Food

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