It is well known that food is the one thing that brings people together. Somehow, wherever we are or whatever we do, it all revolves around food and, at the end of the day, we all like to enjoy a good meal in the presence of family and friends. Besides, food is one of the best ways to get to know a country and its culture. By trying the local food, being curious about its preparation and finding the meaning behind it, is the beauty of travels.
As it is located on the other side of the world, South Korean culture is different from the occidental one in many aspects, including the eating customs.
A typical South Korean restaurant in Seoul, to discover a true, authentic Korean cuisine and learn more about their eating culture.
When dining in a typical Korean restaurant with locals, get ready to cook and share your food! Doing it in Korean way means eating from the same bowl, since sharing and common dining are a big part of their culture. Sitting around the big round table, with lots of small, different dishes called “banchan” on top of it and usually one big grill in the middle of the table to grill your own meat, is not a sign of a lazy chef but an opportunity to enjoy the ritual.
Since the tradition is to eat straight from the bowl without having your own plate, seeing other people’s spoons dipped in the same pot shouldn’t surprise you. So, feel free to stick your chopsticks in that kimchi shouting: my germs!
Compared with the western customs of consuming the food, the biggest difference is that you have your personal plate where you place the food, which is not shared with the rest once it is on your plate. Also, the habit is to usually eat only one big, main dish, with possibly one or two side dishes, while Koreans have a variety of small bites.
But we did find one thing in common, and that is the pleasure of eating together. Regardless the differences between the cultures, we still have that one thing that bonds us all together – the need of communion, belonging and sharing. Another interesting thing about about Korean culture are the food markets. Those places are filled with colorful, fresh, delicious food and it’s really hard to resist all the amazing smells of food while walking down the street. Koreans have the habit of eating on the way, so they try to make sure they have quality and delicious food available on every corner.