The stomach boggles

I’m not averse to trying foods that are new to me, but I draw the line at some of them.  Among other things, Korean kimchi has been a gustatory challenge for me.  I’ve been able to tolerate a couple of relatively mild versions, but the full-on gag-reflex-strength stuff has defeated me for years.  I still find that odd, given that I like sauerkrauthoisin sauce, soy sauce, and so on.  Those should have prepared my palate for kimchi, but somehow the latter just tastes . . . weird!  Maybe I haven’t yet been exposed to good kimchi – if such an animal exists.  Some of my friends, including US servicemen who were posted to Korea, deny emphatically that it does.

That’s why this article made me blink.

Plunging their pink-gloved hands into cartons of cabbages and slathering the vegetables with a bright-red sauce, more than 2,300 people on Friday got to grips with making the spicy, fermented Korean staple of kimchi.

About 60 tons of kimchi, which is made with salted cabbage doused in a spicy chili paste and flavored with garlic, ginger, fish sauce and fermented seafood, among other things, were prepared on the first day of the Seoul Kimchi Festival.

An acquired taste for foreigners, kimchi is traditionally eaten as a side dish at every meal. South Koreans consumed about 1.85 million tonnes of kimchi in 2016, according to the World Institute of Kimchi.

. . .

Organizers aim to make a total of 120 tons of kimchi over the three-day event, which will be distributed to needy households across Seoul.

β€œThis kimchi, along with our warm hearts, will be shared with our neighbors in need of help,” said festival director Shin Myung-ki.

There’s more at the link.

Making a hundred and twenty tons of kimchi over three days?  I can’t help wondering what the air in, around and over that festival must be like.  I fear it’ll smell like an airborne chemical and/or biological weapon has been let loose!  And as for “sharing it with our neighbors in need of help” . . . if they’re in need of help now, they’re likely to be doubly so after they get through that much kimchi!

No.  I’m afraid kimchi is one cultural and culinary artifact I won’t be appropriating!



  1. Kimchi is good stuff. Why not grab a recipe off the net and make a small batch for yourself, sampling it as it matures? Further, make a parallel batch substituting sliced pickling cukes for the bok choy. Pickles is pickles.

  2. I would seriously recommend making your own, Sun at has a bunch of recipes including a simple 'water kimchi' that only takes about 3-4 days to brew, and requires nothing special in ingredients or equipment. From there you can get more complicated πŸ™‚

  3. For years, I had been turned off by store-bought sauerkraut. It's only when I made my own that I discovered the joy of sauerkraut. I expect kimchi is the same, only magnified.

  4. I once worked a long-term overseas contract design-engineering job where one of my colleagues was a guy who, while he was in the Army, did a term in South Korea during which he met and (eventually) married a very personable, pleasant Korean lady. He told me that, before they became engaged, he spent some of his leave-time on weekend visits with her family – during which he formulated the ONLY promise that he extracted from her as a "pre-nuptial agreement": That she NEVER prepare – much less, actually SERVE to him – the traditional "home-style" kimchi that her parents served as a "staple" dish at (literally) EVERY family meal…and this was a guy who, as an ethnic-Scandinavian, considered lutefisk – which is, essentially, aged and partially-fermented fish – to be "pretty o.k. stuff, really"…

    Takes all kinds, I guess –

  5. I get it. Tastes differ.

    I love kimchi (it made major points for me when working with Korean customers) but I've never been able to love either pickled herring or lutefisk, despite a grandmother with Norwegian roots who was sorely disappointed by this lack. And I've never cared for the jellyfish strips you sometimes see at dim sum restaurants, or "100 year old" eggs.

    One of the more amusing things about visiting customers in Seoul is that they'd often want to visit German style beer halls – they're very popular there, and reasonably authentic, except that they inevitably served kimchi rather than sauerkraut.

  6. Kimchi has so many different recipes that it's hard to figure out if you don't like it at all, or just don't like the version that you've tried (it's like pickles that way, more kinds than you can count, some you'll love, some you'll hate). Keep trying it, maybe make your own and experiment with different styles and seasonings and eventually you might find one that you like. Alternately, it might be a texture thing. I've had a few foods where I should love them, but something about the texture makes it hard for me to swallow them.

  7. The buried pots of fermenting kimchi are technically violations of international agreements on land mines.

  8. I once opened a can of Korean C rations to sample whatever was inside. It turned out to be some kind of spicy red cabbage. I suppose it was kimchi. I didn't think it was all that bad, but then after our own ham and lima beans, most food would be a step up.

  9. A Korean bartender at the O-Club at Malmstron AFB, Great Falls Montana took me home and taught me how to make Kimchi. That was in 1981. I make the best kimchi and love it so. I savor the "juice" and add it to Bloody Caesars to give a special kick, YUM!

  10. I've been known to put kimchi on hotdogs or bratwurst, in lieu of sauerkraut. It's kind of an acquired taste, I guess, but, as has been mentioned, there's a LOT of different kinds of kimchi. Spinach, garlic shoots, radishes, turnips, as well as different levels of "heat" in each one. One instructor at DLI said that there were over 100 different kinds of kimchi.

  11. One of the great perks about living in this part of Colorado is the plethora of Korean restaurants and Asian markets. Kimchi of all variety are available, with some of my favorites including the daikon radish and the Korean cucumber style. Kimchi banchan with Dolsot Bi Bim Bap – yummy! Lutefisk is not bad either.


  12. My late 2nd wife was Korean, and she turned me on to Korean cooking. I LOVE almost all Korean cooking, to include kimchi.

  13. Hey Peter;

    When I was younger and had a young mans stomach, I would eat a lot of kimchi, especially when I was on maneuvers, one of our NCO's wife was Korean and she made some for all of us. I already had a taste for it from my Dad who loved the stuff from his Army service.

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