Is there any food that you eat everyday? like every single day? Koreans have that type of food: Kimchi. Koreans eat kimchi every single day. Some even eat kimchi every single meal because it goes so well with other Korean foods. If you’re Korean and have to pick just one side dish to eat with rice, kimchi will be it.
Kimchi is refreshing, tangy, sour, spicy, harmonious, and most importantly, good for your health!
Then, we have to think… how many kimchis you have to make in order to eat kimchi every single day?
People making kimchi together as a community (aka Kimjang).
There are so many stories related to kimchi, but “Kimjang” is the most interesting one. Around mid-November to early December*, the community (neighbors, families, etc.) gather around and make large quantities of kimchi at once so that they can eat for about 6 months to a year.
On average, a family with four members usually make 15 ~ 30 kimchis (or more!). If four families do Kimjang at once, they have to make 120 kimchis (30 * 4 = 120). As you might know, the process of making kimchi can be quite complicated and arduous. If a person makes 30 kimchis by himself/herself, it will be so stressful! That’s why the community get together. They make kimchi together and share with each other.
Kimjang depicts Koreans’ communal culture of sharing. On December 5, 2013, the UNESCO designated the culture of Kimjang as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
It’s not like splitting the bills. It’s more like helping each other. If there are those who can’t do Kimjang for some reason, people will give out their kimchi. People will happily share their kimchi to others if their kimchi turned out to be great.
* Kimjang takes place in November because a temperature of 0℃ ~ 4℃ is best to make and preserve kimchi.
After done with making a lot of kimchi, you have to store them. “Storing” kimch
just as important as “making” kimchi because it controls the taste of kimchi.
How our ancestors preserved kimchi in the past.
The ancestors stored kimchi in Jangdok, which is an earthenware that breathes so it’s perfect for fermented foods. They would put kimchi in Jangdok, dig the ground, and put Jangdok into the hole.
The culture of Kimjang has originated from the fact that vegetables cannot be produced in winter. In the past (like hundreds of years ago), vegetables easily got rotten because there was no electricity and fridge, but people had to consume nutrients and vitamins from vegetables. That’s why people started to preserve vegetables with salt.
How people nowadays preserve kimchi.
These days, Koreans buy a kimchi fridge that maintains a perfect temperature for kimchi to not get too sour or acid. After making kimchi, people store them in a kimchi container that acts as Jangdok, and put the containers into the kimchi fridge.
???? Discussion for Today’s Topic :
Does your country have a food that requires many people to cook together?
Feel free to share your opinion with us. ????