I think food has a great power to connect people from generation to generation and also share cultural background. Since I moved to America four years ago, I always miss South Korean foods very much. It probably doesn’t mean only food but also my home country and family. I want to talk about one popular South Korean stew which I miss so much.
There are many kinds of stew in South Korea but this one, called “Budae jigae,” has a unique meaning and background. Budae jigae, it literally means “army stew” and it is like a Korean fusion stew that incorporates American-style processed food such as spam, sausages, canned baked beans, and sliced cheese. This stew contains kimchi and gochujang, which represent Korean tastes. Soon after the Korean war (in the early 1950’s), food was extremely scarce in Korea; those surplus processed foods from the U.S. military bases were a great supplement for Koreans.
The war ended more than 60 years ago, but this army stew is still very popular and became comfort food from older generation to younger generation. The army stew, this name sounds like it was for military people, but it’s not. It was created by regular people and used as a good source for food shortage. I enjoyed having the army stew when I was young, but I didn’t know the meaning or the history of this stew. One day, I watched a short documentary about the army stew and finally understood why it was named after the army. And also, I was able to think about the Korean war, which is a very important history, even though I am not part of the generation who has been through the war. I felt some connection with the older generation and was amazed what they created.