Buried in this JoongAng Daily piece, it looks like the government has backed off on promoting makgeolli’s new punk rock name, “Drunken Rice.” Turned out there was an instant public outcry from both Koreans and non-Koreans. Basically, it went along the lines of, “Why do you think foreigners are so stupid they can’t pronounce ‘makgeolli?'”
No word yet on if they’re going to back off on topokki. And even though Drunken Rice is getting buried, the government still wants to have some standardized spelling by the end of June.
I don’t think anyone understands why the government feels this need to dumb down Korean products for the overseas markets. As the guys on Korean Taco Party commented on Twitter, let the food speak for itself.
I guess the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has been inspired by the success of other ethnic dishes introduced to westerners using the same method, along with this odd obsession with translating Korean foods into their literal English forms when the original Korean words would work just fine.
What? You don’t know? What about these popular items?
Raw fish slapped on vinegared rice with green horseradish
Fermented wheat powder with yeast mixed until glutinous and baked
Flat noodle substance layered with tomatoes and cheese
Rotten milk curd
Little Spanish dishes
Thai-style noodles with coconut milk
Seafood marinated in an acidic liquid
Pita stuffed with rotating meat
Soybean curd (oh yeah, they already use that description in Korea in English)
Ground beef sandwich
Flatbread with toppings
Liquefied chicken in nugget form
Fried potatoes with extracted meat juice and curdled dairy
American mass-produced alcoholic carbonated water
Lips and asses in tube form
Feel free to list the real names of these or add your own in the comments.
Okay, and now the news and detritus from the web.
- Royal court cuisine is starting to be served in blue collar cafeterias and universities
- Not Korean but close and cool: Sushi push pops
- Patty Patty — yet another trendy burger joint in Seoul
- Fatman found some groovy cheap Hanjeongsik
- Reading one of the reviews of this Korean restaurant in Santa Clara, CA, I’d like to mention that this move to make Korean food sound better to English ears can backfire devastatingly when trying to pretty it up. I’ve seen this in restaurants in Korea, too. Don’t call Budae Jjigae “Sausage Stew!!!” It’s a classic bait-and-switch. Yes, technically hot dogs are sausage. But when an American sees “sausage” on a menu, the diner’s expecting something other than a hot dog. Call it for what it is and be proud, dammit!
- I was told by a high end galbi restaurant manager that Koreans don’t like what we call “flavor” in their beef. They only like grain-fed beef and can tell if any of the green stuff has ever touched their dead cow’s lips–and will complain. But if this New Zealand article is true, Koreans may well be discovering the joys of grass-fed beef.
- This review of yet another Korean restaurant in Georgia shows, again, that Americans ain’t afraid of spicy food. They like it that way. Korean food promoters take note.
- The Korean embassy in Oman is hosting a Korean food festival.
- Kiss My Kimchi is being a brave man, attempting to make a list I can’t even start yet–The Top Ten Restaurants in Seoul.
- Roboseyo tackles the food issue in the second part of his series on Who Owns a Culture.