This NY Times restaurant review had me extremely amused. It's a review of a Korean restaurant, and filled with reverent words to signify just how different, original, and exotic the food is. Passages like, "a sprinkle of al dente yellow soy beans finished with a soy-sugar-glaze; a tender tangle of wilted watercress or spinach." It's cuisine.

...HAHAHAHAHA *wipes tears* That's all peasant food, dude. Every last thing on the menu. Really tasty, really good for you, but yeah.

It reads like a tourist travel writer thinking they were invited to the king's palace for lunch, but really wound up at the local Denny's. (Though peasant food did find its roots from royal cuisine: after feast days in the royal palace, leftover food would be distributed to the villages, where commoners could taste what was eaten in the palace--and copy it in day to day life.

You can actually get royal meals in Korea, that is, traditional meals that would have been offered to the king, with the accompanying price tag. They're pretty fancy in an understated, elegant way. I think that Americans would like the traditional food better than I did, actually, because from what I remember, there was a lot of meat, and not enough spice. (Ahm. Spiiiicy.)

From: [identity profile]

Oh god, I ignore the NYT restaurant and travel sections for precisely that reason--the authors seldom know what they're talking about or are just fuckwits (or both). They had a section on travel in Cambodia the other was like the guy had visited an entirely different country than the Cambodia I traveled through. His review basically boiled down to: "The poverty is so picturesque! The illegal drugs so inexpensive! The $200/night hotel my boyfriend and I stayed at was nothing special, even though $200 is just under what many Cambodians live on in a year. Imagine!"


On a related note, I love it when Westerners rediscover that peasant food not only tasts good, but is good for you too. Duh, it had to be if you were working 12 hour days in the fields, year round. I dunno that I've ever tried royal kitchen Korean food, but if it's anything like the stuff they show in Daejanggeum--holy shit, I'm there, lack of spice or no.

From: [identity profile]

Oh, that's just. Oh's that's bad. Save that for your vacation and let's try writing this article with our *brain* and *sense of decency,* mmmkay?

And it's not really peasant food if it's from a far-flung foreign culture with their ~mystical, exotic food which looks good on NYT copy.* And plus! you need to make sure not to offend because god, how would your reputation be if you were to be un-PC? My WASP sensibilities!

*Honestly, I think the gourmet purple prose was prompted by all the ingredients: spices, greens, meat--when translated into English sound suitably foodie and prissy (chrysanthemum leaves, glass noodles, etc.) but in Korean has the connotation on the same level as of a head of lettuce and spaghetti with red sauce.

I looked up royal cuisine on wiki and definitely remember this being one of the 12 banchan (not including the neverending rounds of meat my uncle would order to be a good host.... I think dinner for 3 ended up being ~500.00.):

Because I had never before or since seen anything like steak tartare offered or eaten in any Korean establishment. But generally speaking, I remember the meal as being the true "gourmet Korean cuisine" where all the traditional banchan you grew up with was taken to a chef and had all its rustic, comfort food charm replaced with very "proper" and "formal" pleasers that took moderation very much into account. Like Korean food by Martha Stewart, sort of.

Or maybe I'm projecting because I was nervous being in a private room of an upscale restaurant, eating obscenely expensive royal cuisine bought for me by an uncle I'd never met before, encouraging me to eat more and spend even more of his money when I wasn't sure if he could really, *really?* afford it.

From: [identity profile]

Hiya! This is [ profile] grey_damaskena. I'm sorry to be leaving you a comment so randomly, but I dropped by because you're a member of the [ profile] saiunkoku community. I just wanted to let you know that there's currently a poll running on the community to gauge interest in getting the Saiunkoku Monogatari light novels translated into English. The number of answers in the poll could very well determine whether or not we ever see an English version of the novels. So if you have the time and have not done so already, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to answer it.

Please either drop by the [ profile] saiunkoku community (the poll is in the third post), or click on this link ( to go directly to the post.

Thank you very much for your time, and for your interest and support of Saiunkoku!


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