ACK! Marmot beat me to it on this one. It arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and I puttered around on posting it.
Turns out that CIA professor John Nihoff, who I know as one of the judges on “Iron Chef America,” was promoting Korean food recently. He also stated that Japanese food concentrates too much on pretty packaging, which I agree to some extent. And the Chinese food is too varied to pin down–which I don’t think is a reason to not like it.
Nonetheless, I agree with his sentiments on Korean food itself. It has health and flavor, the Holy Grail of health food for Americans.
Can’t agree 100% with that “healthy” observation there, Korea’s got a very high rate of stomach cancer. Possibly from all that red pepper.
I think one of the reason for high stomach cancer is due to alcohol then a food, especially with older generation.
I am inclined to agree with that. Many other countries eat a heck of a lot of capsicum. Yet I don’t know their stomach cancer stats. I also wonder if eat too much fermented food or highly acidic food can contribute to that. Lack of vitamin B12 can also have some effects, as well as H. pylori bacteria. Yet I haven’t done any research that would make a connection between Korean food and those two factors.
I think the quote was fabricated. Notice how you, a native English speaker, said, “Chinese food is too varied,” but the Chosun Ilbo quote attributed to Nihoff was, “Chinese food is too various.” Most Koreans are unfamiliar with “varied” and use “various” exclusively in ways that violate English grammar and usage. “Various” is never used with uncountable nouns like “food” and rarely in the predicate, where “varied” is preferred.
As for the link between capsicum and stomach cancer, I doubt there is a strong causal link. Japanese rates of stomach cancer are comparable to Koreans, yet hot peppers are not a mainstay of Japanese cuisine. Moreover, one hundred years ago, stomach cancer rates were very high in the US and Canada but declined dramatically after refrigeration reduced the need for salting and pickling. Overall, cancer rates are comparable between North America and East Asia. The differences lie in the types of cancer that dominate. Most chronic diseases from cancer to diabetes to heart disease to rheumatoid arthritis are started and promoted through interactions between genes and lifestyle/environment. The best quote I’ve heard: “Genes load the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger.” I like this quote because it communicates that genes are not our destiny. Lifestyle choices do matter regardless of our genetic legacy.
Hot peppers confer health benefits if consumed in moderation. They inhibit the growth of bacteria in food and help blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure. The key is moderation. The heavy use of hot peppers in Korean dishes is irritating to the GI tract and deadens the palate. Another favorite quote comes from an Indian chef working in Korea: “Korean food is not spicy; it’s just hot because of the peppers.”
Here is link for information about gastric or stomach cancer with Koreans.
Guess it’s not the red pepper.
From Wikipedia: “Gastric or stomach cancer has very high incidence in Korea and Japan. Gastric cancer is the leading cancer type in Korea with 20.8% of malignant neoplasms, the second leading cause of cancer deaths. It is suspected several risk factors are involved including diet, gastritis, intestinal metaplasia and Helicobacter pylori infection. A Korean diet, high in salted, stewed and broiled foods, is thought to be a contributing factor.”
As someone who practically grew up eating Japanese food in L.A., it’s only been recently that I’ve started eating Korean food. A real shame, in my opinion, because of the dearth of Koreans I grew up with.
I completely agree with Nihoff. We just need to see more of it outside of the big city Koreatowns.
Though I am proud to say that I found a few places that stocked gochujang and Hite here in Tucson!