Mar. 29th, 2010

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.

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