[personal profile] kittenscribble
From the wiki entry: The dish originated during the Korean War, and was popular for a time afterwards, when people had little to eat.

Apparently budae jjigae (Army Base Stew) is quite big right now as an example of fusion cuisine. It's a Korean noodle soup, but with American ingredients added in, like pieces of Spam or hot dogs. The story is that the soup got quite popular outside American army bases, because people cooked with what they had to hand, and the American troops would sometimes share their food.

My cousin took his mother out to eat at a Korean place that served budae jjigae. She was horrified to see it on the menu. Budae jjigae, she told him, was the name given to the soup that people made when there was literally nothing else to eat. They rooted through the garbage piles outside the army base, picking out any edible material they could find, and boiling it in water to (hopefully) extract any possible nutrients and (ideally) kill any germs. Spam and hot dogs? No; my aunt remembers chewed-over bones, gristle, discarded vegetable matter. Sometimes there were still cigarette butts in the soup when it was served.

Budae jjigae? No thank you. My aunt ordered something else instead.

Date: 2010-03-29 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-sunshine.livejournal.com
Woah. I'm amazed any sort of ethnic restaurant would serve something that has that sort of background.

Date: 2010-03-29 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kittenscribble.livejournal.com
It's quite popular, actually, both here and in South Korea. It's just another example of how poor man's food is getting all dressed up and served to the rich. Things like organ meats and caviar are considered delicacies now, but it used to be the poor people who got the stuff as discards, and had to try to figure out what to do wth it. I actually love spam on ramen -- reminds me of my childhood.

You can look at it as an optimist too: sure, the dish started out as a dumpster-diving expedition, but see how far it's come!

Date: 2010-03-29 03:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-sunshine.livejournal.com
When Ruth's Chris starts having ramen as a side dish, we're all in trouble. :)

Date: 2010-03-29 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maroonmd.livejournal.com
HAhahaha St00pid Americans! ;)

Date: 2010-03-29 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kittenscribble.livejournal.com
I'd totally still order it though. It sounds delicious. :D I just wouldn't go for the "original" version.

Date: 2010-03-29 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pictsy.livejournal.com
How cool it would be to have an annotated menu, explaining the origin of the dishes.

Date: 2010-03-29 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kittenscribble.livejournal.com
Agreed. I'm sure not all dishes have this cool of a backstory, but I would still be interested.

Date: 2010-03-30 10:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fencerchica.livejournal.com
I think okonomiyaki has a somewhat similar history, although not quite as desperate as your cousin's mother's experience. It's a big sloppy omelette of flour, vegetables, and seafood chunks. I discovered it while I was at Cooper and loved it, but my mom was a little weirded out to hear that, because to her it was a dish associated with the poor and with hard times such as during the war.

Date: 2010-03-31 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kittenscribble.livejournal.com
oh neat! I didn't know that about okonomiyaki, but it makes sense.

It only seems to take about a generation for the stigma to fade away from the food.


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