Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Kimchi Chronicles

My love of Korean food has already been documented here on the blog, so when I heard that there was going to be a food show on PBS higlighting Korean cuisine called the Kimchi Chronicles, I was pretty amped. I have often wondered why Korean food doesn't get the same amount of attention as say Chinese, Japanese or even Thai food does in the U.S. (Anyone wanna take a guess?)

In some respects the host of the show, Marja Vongerichten, seems on the outside to be an unlikely candidate to introduce us to Korean food. She's the wife of Jean Georges Vongerichten, one of the most highly regarded and successful chefs in the U.S. (Maybe it's not too surprising then that she's hosting her own show?). However, Marja was born in Korea to a Korean mother and African-American father and was given up for adoption during her childhood in part because of the social hardships that many biracial children faced in Korea. She grew up in the United States and was reunited with her birth mother in her late teens. Kimchi Chronicles is part travelogue, cooking show and her personal story of cultural reconnection.

The show consists of a mix of cooking segments, ample eating time and historical and geographical information about Korea. Here's a taste of the show:

They cook my favorite Korean dish, kimchi jigae!

I will admit to you that I've only seen a few episodes, but I think the show is a great introduction to Korean culture and food. Is it great TV? I'm not so sure. I wouldn't say that Marja is the most engaging host, and sometimes the cooking segments seem a little forced, especially when Hugh Jackman and his wife are around.

Oh, yeah. He's in it too. If you watch it for the first time, and he shows up out of nowhere, it's a little jarring. Apparently, Hugh is a big fan of Korea, the Vongerichtens' neighbor and really wanted to participate. Okay.....

I was ready to lick the screen while watching the show. Since I am still waiting for a few invites for homemade Korean food at friends' homes or an eventual trip to Korea itself, Kimchi Chronicles is a great stand in experience and still by far one of the best shows I've seen that really teaches us about Korean food.

If you don't get a chance to see the series and want to learn how to cook Korean food at home, there's an accompanying cookbook.

I like surprise presents, everyone. Just kidding. I'm too intimidated to cook Korean food at home just yet.

Did anyone get a chance to see Kimchi Chronicles? What did you think of the show? If you've tried Korean cuisine before, what's your favorite dish?


lavenderpug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lavenderpug said...

oops i did something weird with my comment!

i love kimchi chronicles! i caught a bunch of episodes a few months back--i need to get back on that train. they have so much delicious food and they provide a lot of interesting information. she inspire me to learn more about korean food (which i haven't actually done yet, but still...).

Geek in Heels said...

I've only watched the first episode so I need to catch up! One thing I don't like about Korean restaurants in the U.S. is that many of them serve "westernized" Korean food. While it's not quite as bad as westernized Chinese food (where they don't even serve those dishes in China), a lot of the dishes are sweeter or less spicy than they should be. I actually have not found ONE Korean restaurant in Manhattan that serves good, authentic Korean food. For that, you'd need to venture out to Queens or NJ. Perhaps you can make this one of your future foodie adventures? ;-)

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@lavenderpug - I totally agree that it is really educational.

@Geek In Heels - I've been planning to go to Flushing for months! I think I will head out over the spring. Do you have any recs? I'd love some.

Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

Neato! I feel like Food Network has branched out a lot of over the they have shows that include a little soul food, a little indian flare and such! So much fun! I wish they had a middle eastern cuisine show.

Lisa said...

I haven't seen this show, but I heard about it. I didn't know about the background of the host though. Very interesting lady!I'll have to watch!


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