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« A Three Day Cooking Tour Through the Franche-Comté by Ed McGaugh | Main | Eugénie Brazier, Bouchons and Terroir of Lyon by Farid Zadi »

August 04, 2005

Three generations of Korean Kitchens by Ji-Young Park

My parents were born towards the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea. The feudal system was coming to an end.

My father's family had moved onto a more modern style of living. My paternal grandfather gave up gentleman farming to open a very large, according to the standards of the times, department store in Taejon.

My mother's family in Jeolla-do Province still maintain the family farm. There are fragments of traditional structures that survived Japanese Occupation and the Korean war  next to modern rice processing equipment.

The Korean kitchen my mother was born into was a wealthy one in the most fertile part of Korea. Jeolla-do cooking is considered the finest because of the range of ingredients available from  grains, mountain greens and seafood. Compared to most other Koreans they had a table of abundance rivaling Royal court cuisine.

Her father and uncles were  still concerned with being  Confucian gentleman scholars. My paternal grandmother was an accomplished calligrapher in Chinese at a time when education wasn't openly available to women. Actually these traditions never died in my family. My father and uncle are acupuncturists and herbalists. My uncle has written books in old Korean and Chinese.

My posts on Korean cooking will cover pantry ingredients, traditional recipes and methods, some history including  descriptions of Korean cuisine through feudal times, The Korean War and the aftermath of ruin and  poverty,  the period of rapid industrialization and immigration.

I've visited Korea over 100 times, several visits were culinary tours thanks to generous parents who were concerned about maintaining traditions. I think I've been to every museum in South Korea at least twice.

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