Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interview with D - A Korean's take on Western food

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may have noticed that I have mentioned a mysterious “D” in some of my previous posts. D is a young Korean woman who I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past year. She has given me huge insight into Korea’s inner workings, (food, teaching, love/sex, plastic surgery…you name it!), and we have become good friends in the meantime!

Here is an interview with her about her view on Western food from the time she spent at University in the United States. I hope you find it as smart and insightful as I did!

Q: How long were you in the United States, and where exactly did you live?

I was in the U.S. for about 2 years, and I lived in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was a really small city.

Q: What did you think of food in the U.S.?

At first, it was just great. Everything was very delicious. I enjoyed it for a while but later it made me fat, and I started to think it was too oily. In Korea, my ordinary meal was just rice with some side dishes, but in the States I had to eat out every time because I was in a dormitory, and every meal was too huge and heavy. I never ate everything at a restaurant. I gained too much weight and so fast, about 8 kilograms.

Q: What was the most surprising thing about American food?

The biggest difference was that the average number of calories in the food was much higher than Korean food. People enjoyed appetizers and desserts. In Korea I eat the meal, mostly vegetables, and usually do not have dessert. The average size of a dish was much bigger than that in Korea.

It is the same with desserts. A cup of ice cream was huge. When I first went to Coldstone, I was surprised that the smallest size of a cup was still too big. It was good the first time, but l started to think like, "Why do people eat that much for no reason?” And for the size of a cup of coffee, the largest size in Korea was “grande”, not “venti”. For me, everything was too much and too big.

Q: What were some other differences between American and Korean food that you noticed?

We do not usually order any drinks in Korea when we eat out. I was surprised that most people had soda or sweet tea during their meal. I think that was one of the reasons that I gained weight.

Also they ate too many fried things. People who control their diet still eat healthily even in the States, but most people eat too much oily food.

One more thing - people in the States eat too much meat. We eat meat sometimes in Korea, but not everyday. I don't think eating meat everyday is a way to be healthy.

Q: Did you eat more American food or Korean food while you were in the U.S.?

I couldn't eat the same as Americans. I was worried that if I kept eating like them, I would suffer from obesity. My body couldn't stand the food that I ate everyday. So I ate subs or salad, or went to Asian restaurants, but the dishes were still huge.

Sometimes I ate Korean food at the only Korean restaurant when I felt sick of eating Western food, but not very often. It was too expensive, because I would compare the price in Korea with the price there.

Q: How about the way of eating, like not sharing your food with other people (something that is common in Korea)? Was that surprising?

It was not that surprising. Since a dish is very big, it could be a good idea for two people to share it, but I knew it was a cultural thing, so I wasn't surprised. In Korea, we do not share food that much like before, especially younger people don't do it that much. But still, we sometimes order food and eat it together - it happens between close friends. Sharing has to be natural in Korea, because we have a lot of foods like big stews that we boil on the table during a meal. I think it's just a cultural difference.

Q: How often do you eat Western food now that you’re back in Korea? What kind of food do you eat?

I'm on a diet now, so I try not to eat Western food except like salad. But before I ate it maybe more than once in a week. They're not original, but I can find Western restaurants everywhere. I liked cheeseburgers and subs. Since the taste of Western food is not the same as what I had there, I sometimes cook for myself things like chicken noodle soup or macaroni and cheese.

I miss cheap hotdogs, buffalo wings, chicken noodle soup at the school cafeteria, burgers at Wendy's (there's no Wendy's in Korea), Chick Fil-a...mostly I can't taste them here.

Q: Anything else to add about your experiences with food in the U.S.?

I think the food in the States is very delicious and I'd like to enjoy it, but it's hard to find healthy options. I prefer Korean food for my everyday meal. It’s just too oily to eat everyday.

Before I went to the States, I couldn't understand the reason why my Western friends said Korean food is very healthy, but I can understand now.

Thank you D! <3

1 comment:

  1. As a Korean-American, I like to think I grew up with the best of both culinary worlds. I cannot, however, accept the stereotypes that Korean food is healthy and Western food is unhealthy. Sure, the British Commonwealth has fry-ups and America has greasy fast food (and all in large portions), but Korea is just as guilty of unhealthiness. Korean food has hypertension-inducing sodium content and the omnipresence of rice at every meal is contributing to rising rates of diabetes. And none of this takes into account soju's effect on the liver or communal meal sharing and the spread of HSV-1. My point is every cuisine has the healthy and unhealthy. We need to acknowledge this.