Kimchi The Essence of Korean Culture

It was found that in spite of cultural influence from the West, kimchi is still an inseparable part of Korean lifestyle. Also, Korean people’s love for kimchi is not just limited to the craving of their palate, but has extended to their emotions, mind and core of their being. The research revealed that food is not only the source of nutrients and energy, but is also a source of emotional bonding with one’s family, culture and nation. Introduction Food is one of the most important aspects of human culture. One can understand the core of person’s culture through the food he eats as cultural identity is strongly symbolized in food (Kittler and Sucher 4). Hence, throughout the world, festivals specific to different cultures are celebrated by preparing different dishes. For example, American family prepares Turkey during Thanksgiving. However, the Italian American families combine an Italian dish of Raviolis with Turkeys and Mexican-Americans combine Mexican dish of Tamales with their Turkey (Kittler and Sucher 4). In this way, people follow their own food habits even if they are living in foreign countries. This is because human being learns to affiliate his cultural identity with food right from his childhood (Kittler and Sucher 4). People are emotionally bonded to their culture and their nation through food. Hence, this paper aims at understanding the essence of association between the cultural values and a particular favorite dish. The dish that this paper aims to research is the national favorite of Korean people, known as ‘kimchi.’ Kimchi is not just ‘food’ for Korean people, but it is a symbol of ancestral love, history, culture and family bonding. Hence, kimchi is known to contain not only the nutritional values, but also the spirit and essence of Koreans, and hence, is an inseparable part of Korean culture. History Kimchi is part of Korean people’s lives and culture since immemorial times. The historical references to early forms of kimchi can be traced back to year 681 CE, when kimchi was served as a part of great wedding feast held by king Shunmun, who ruled the country between 681 to 691CE (Gannon and Pillai 126). However, it is understood that kimchi was created by Koreans out of necessity due to environmental and social situations (Gannon and Pillai 126). Due to lack of natural resources, it was difficult for a small country like Korea to grow fresh vegetables during winter season (Gannon and Pillai 126). Moreover, growing vegetables was also more difficult because the winters are very long in Korea (Gannon and Pillai 126). Hence, the Korean families used to gather the vegetable resources for winter by spending weeks in harvesting crops during the fall season (Gannon and Pillai 127). To ensure the adequate provision of vegetables for the family in the winter season, Korean people used to pickle the vegetables in salt solution, with additional spices added for taste, in order to ferment the vegetables and preserve them for consumption during the winter (Gannon and Pillai 127). This process of fermentation ensured food for family for whole year and helped them from starving in the winter season (Gannon and Pillai 127). The fermented vegetables came to be known as ‘Kimchi’. However, in the ancient times, the kimchi was made only by immersing vegetables in salt solution (Korean Kimchi n.d.). People started adding spices to their kimchi from around 12th century (Korean Kimchi