Journalists unable to try Korean dishes
By Yun Suh-young
At Cheong Wa Dae, the spouses of the heads of state participating in the Nuclear Security Summit were provided with traditional royal cuisine by Korea’s first lady Kim Yoon-ok. The 15 spouses of foreign dignitaries were also treated to a K-pop performance.
At the press center, however, reporters had fewer opportunities to taste Korean food. Although it was a great opportunity for the summit’s preparatory secretariat to promote it, few traditional dishes were introduced at the lunch and dinner buffets.
Some popular dishes such as jeon (traditional pancakes) and kimbap (rice rolled in dry seaweed with vegetables and beef) among others were missing from the menu.
Stews that are less familiar to foreigners were offered throughout the summit.
The chef in charge of the media dining area also expressed regret about some of the missing popular Korean dishes.
“I regret not being able to introduce a variety of Korean dishes to the press. We had to consider a wide range of issues from how easily the food will spoil to how fast it can be served,” said Song Young-won, the executive chef of the External Business Division of SK Networks, the parent company of Sheraton Grande Walkerhill and W Seoul Walkerhill hotels which catered the conference.
“Food such as kimbap can go bad quickly so we had to take it off the menu. As for jeon, we served it at other conferences like the G20 but this time it was left out. We usually serve grilled dishes on the spot, but considering the fact that reporters needed to eat quickly and leave, we took it out,” he said.
Other foods typically representing Korea such as bibimbap (rice mixed with vegetables), galbijim (short-rib stew), bulgogi (barbecued beef) and japchae (glass noodles with sauteed vegetables) were offered at different times.
About half of the menu consisted of Western food such as spaghetti and smoked salmon. Chinese dish such as fried chicken and shrimps in chili sauce was included. For Muslims, halal food was offered.
“Although we would have loved to provide more Korean food, we had to consider foreigners’ palates. They usually avoid sticky food that leaves a lasting aftertaste so we took out rice cakes for dessert,” said Song.
The foods most popular among foreigners were Korean barbecue and ribs, bibimbap and traditional tea such as omija tea, persimmon punch and sweet rice drinks.