People have long-held beliefs in the symbolic nature of food. We don’t realize often that many of the foods we eat were originally inspired.
Food is Craving and Culture. Have an inside look of these faith-based Korean foods.
On ‘Boknal’ or the three ‘hottest days of the year’ according to the Korean lunar calendar, people consume a boiling-hot bowl of chicken soup which seems to be counter-intuitive. During these days, all popular samgyetang restaurants in Korea are overloaded.
They believe that samgyetang heats the body from the inside out, thus expels excess heat from the body.
Red bean porridge, or ‘patjuk’, is a seasonal dish with red beans. It has been eaten for countless years as a way to chase away bad spirits, and bring in health and happiness.
Seaweed soup or Miyeokguk, is fed to mothers recovering from recent birth-giving for about two or three times a day for up to a month.
Miyeokguk is a symbol of birth and the first food eaten by a new mother. Most parents make miyeokguk for their children on their birthdays to celebrate.
A medical fact contributes to this belief as seaweed is full of iodine and calcium.
The word ‘bokbunja’ comes from the Chinese hanja characters meaning ‘flip’, ‘pot’ and ‘person’. Ancient myth tells the story of a bokbunja berry farmer who found the fruit which gave him so much power. He flipped his chamber pot over when relieving himself!
It is a kind of red berry wine considered to have many antioxidants and other health benefits. A traditional belief says it helps increase stamina.
Gochang is well known for bokbunja
Janchi guksu noodles
Janchi guksu is one type of noodle soup that is traditionally eaten on weddings as a symbol of longevity, good health and a good-luck gesture for the new couple. ‘Janchi’ which means ‘banquet’ is usually served as a special meal in weddings. Want to give a try with your loved one’s? Check out the recipe here.
In South Korea, if you’d like to ask someone’s age, you may ask politely and sweetly “How many bowls of tteokguk have you eaten?” Doesn’t it sound crazy?
Tteokguk or rice cake soup contains oval-shaped slices of soft, chewy rice cake to represent coin that helps in bringing wealth, while long tubes of rice cake is for prosperity.
It is commonly eaten on Lunar New Year. This is a way of to symbolize gaining a year of life, or becoming one year older. Now, it makes sense!
Celebrations of the Korean New Year
Traditional Korean candy ‘Yeot’ is often known as toffee which is made of hardened syrup. It is traditionally thought to bring good luck before exams.
‘Stick’ word commonly used to say ‘to pass the test’. The stickiness of yeot is known to help students literally ‘stick’ to their studies and their goals.
On the other hand, “Eat Yeot” is commonly used to insult if someone fails.
Yeot is considered as lucky charm before Exams
Bureom is a collection of various kinds of nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, and gingko nuts. It is one of the most popular and traditional food during the Daeboreum (“Great Full Moon”).
It is believed that to crack a nut in your mouth early in the morning on Daeboreum’s day will help strengthen teeth, avoid allergies, prevent boils, and bring good luck for the coming year.
First Full Moon Day of the Lunar Year