Fluid Culture

Why Korean food is good for vegetarians

Why Korean food is good for vegetarians

 

What is the secret to Korean food for vegetarians? I’ll get straight to the point. Korean food is plant-based, and it’s delicious. It’s as simple as that. We think about it, we crave it, we enjoy it like hell. Once we’re surrounded by it, there’s no going back. Vegetables become a desirable part of life.

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A way of life – pinchos at Mercado de San Antón, Madrid

A way of life – pinchos at Mercado de San Antón, Madrid

 

Every time I visit Spain, I am confirmed in my conviction that Spaniards love to eat. Food is everywhere, visibly displayed, with tempting smells wafting out from restaurants and market stalls. Ingredients in their prime, bursting with colour and firmness, laid out on plates and slices of bread. Oily anchovies on juicy tomatoes, salmon on the creamiest of avocados, octopus sprinkled with pimentón. Quite frankly, who wouldn’t love to try this myriad of mouth-watering foods?

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Semla, a Swedish dream of cream

Semla, a Swedish dream of cream

 

In Sweden, there exists a popular pastry called semla.

Fact: On Fat Tuesday alone, bakeries sell over 6 million semlor (and that’s not including homemade or supermarket-sold ones!).

Fact: Sweden has a population of 9.9 million.

Fact: Traditionalists eat semla on Fat Tuesday only. But there are others who eat semla every Tuesday during semla season. And then there are those Swedes who fika with it to their heart’s content (read more about fika here).

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A conversation with co-owner and chef Myung Keun Lee at Jalasan, Valencia

A conversation with co-owner and chef Myung Keun Lee at Jalasan, Valencia

 

#10 in the series – challenges & innovations for Korean restaurants abroad

“In Valencia, there are many people who eat a lot of rice, onions, and so on. That’s why it’s easier for them to like Korean food.”

When you start interviewing individuals with the same job description but in different settings, you will evidently come across a lot of similarities: that introducing Korean food to another culture comes with many challenges, but also many rewards. That the Korean settlers’ taste changes with more time spent in their new home country, whether or not reflected in the food cooked at their restaurant. But you come to discover many unique stories as well. It wasn’t any different when we met the lovely couple behind Jalasan, a Korean restaurant in the sprawling city of Valencia, which is known for its paellas.

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Bombas at La Bombeta in Barceloneta, Barcelona

Bombas at La Bombeta in Barceloneta, Barcelona

 

That’s a lot of beautiful Bs in the title right there. What is the story behind this explosively delicious food called la bomba that is served at the La Bombeta tapas bar and restaurant in Barcelona?

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Spanish Tapas culture – the amazing El Pezcador in Madrid

Spanish Tapas culture – the amazing El Pezcador in Madrid

 

I am almost reluctant to share this secret local spot, because somehow until now it has remained hidden in plain sight to visitors streaming past in surrounding streets right in the heart of Madrid. Yet at the same time it is too good to keep secret – I’m simply too riveted by it to not share with you my experiences of El Pezcador and Spanish Tapas culture.

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Swedish Fika – a concept, not a coffee: fika at Vete-Katten, Stockholm & Güntherska, Uppsala

Swedish Fika – a concept, not a coffee: fika at Vete-Katten, Stockholm & Güntherska, Uppsala

 

For me the most amazing and exciting thing about travelling is – you can probably guess – food. But it’s not just the food itself that gets me all worked up, it’s also the culture around it. Because if you try to separate the food from the culture, it’s like taking a tree, removing it from its soil and environment, and then planting it somewhere else – it’s probably still going to grow, but not in the same way. Sometimes separation can result in entirely new cultures around the food. Sometimes it’s nice to not just appropriate the food but also parts of the culture. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Swedish fika at least once during a regular working day? Wouldn’t you love to regularly fika? (more…)

Waffles with hot cherries in a sun-filled conservatory, Schloßcafé

Waffles with hot cherries in a sun-filled conservatory, Schloßcafé

 

Although this is an unlikely spot for a tourist or visitor to ever get to, for you adventurers out there Schloßcafé, a café in a conservatory-like space adjacent to a garden center named Schlößer, at a country road in Moers, Germany, is definitely worth a mention, a write-up even. Personally, I discovered it on a trip to the garden center, which I knew of since my brother lives in the area. But for those of you who think you’re unlikely to venture further afield, if you haven’t had a waffle with hot cherries and cream before, then it’s about time to find out about it.

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A conversation with sisters Byung-Hi and Byung-Soon Lim at Arirang, Stockholm

A conversation with sisters Byung-Hi and Byung-Soon Lim at Arirang, Stockholm

 

#10 in the series – challenges & innovations for Korean restaurants abroad

“We’re not interested in carrying the Korean flag, but it’s important for us to give people good, tasty food in a nice, friendly atmosphere with traditional family recipes.”

On my recent trip to Sweden I had the pleasure of chatting with sisters Byung-Hi (the manager) and Byung-Soon (the chef) Lim at Korean restaurant Arirang in Stockholm. Family-owned since the restaurant’s establishment in 1975, it was in fact the first Korean restaurant to open in the whole of Scandinavia. In a very modest way, however, they point out that they didn’t really think of themselves as a restaurant at that time.

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