Monday, 1 June 2009

Korean toast


Joey from Friends holds the humble sandwich in high regard as his favourite food and he may well be onto something. Bread has an infinite number of recipes which can include all kinds of strange and wonderful additions and comes in all kinds of colours, textures, shapes and sizes. The fillings for the sandwich are also near limitless, although I am yet to hear of a kimchi sandwich, not sure I would care to try it either.

Every country and culture has sandwiches of one kind or another, each with their own unique take on the aristocratic inspired masterpiece. Sandwiches are not considered a meal in themselves, more fast food, especially in Korea. Yet it would seem it was a member of the aristocracy who came up with the snack, or at least perpetuated and popularised it. 

The Earl of Sandwich was a keen poker player and enjoyed sandwiches because they helped prevent his hands from getting greasy whilst playing cards.

Sandwiches have 'evolved' since those days with meatballs, processed cheese and even peanut butter and jelly [For Brits read Jam]becoming popular fillings. Surely they have to be considered the ultimate convenience food and the single most popular genre of food in the entire world.

On any day, in any town or city, office workers, children, Presidents, Royalty and Manchester United fans (prawn I believe they favour) can been seen tucking into a sandwich as a quick but often healthy snack.

Korea has not escaped the sandwich wave. 

The words sandwich and toast seem to be interchangeable in Korea and whist the sandwiches I talk of are often toasted in Korea, they are sandwiches. Anything between 2 pieces of bread can and should be called a sandwich, however unorthodox. Cabbage seems to find its way into every sandwich in the country, much like lettuce in other countries, as do sweet sauces of alarmingly varying colours. Character toast is something recently discovered by me in Korea and is as simple as burning a face onto the bread before assembly, which is nice, if not a little infantile. 

Various combinations of ham (well it looks like ham), cheese (well it looks like cheese), cabbage, bacon and egg seem to form the core of the Korean sandwich experience but other, stranger ingredients are prevalent although I have heard of the bulgogi sandwich which I am very, very keen to try. In true Korean style they have taken something from the western world and Koreafied it. Sandwiches have followed the same fate as the pizza but don't let these comments fool you into thinking I don't like sandwiches or Korean toast, I do, but they are not the versatile, healthy snack food I have come to know and love. McDonald's and Burger King get much the same review.

Whether it's called a submarine, a BLT, a Philly cheese steak , a hamburger, a hoagie, a Po' Boy, a panini, Korean character toast or the great sounding hero, sandwiches are the food of Kings and should be revered for the versatile, delicious and ingenious creation they are. In fact go out and buy a sandwich right now. The one with the green sauce and the hello Kitty burned into the bread, you know you want to.






3 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice. The pictures are nice. Thanks for posting and are there any local specialties down there?

Rob said...

Well bibimbap is probably the most famous dish to come from Jeonju. Other places have their version of bibimbap but Jeonju's is widely known and respected as the best. Jeonju is known for Korean cuisine in general and I know a few places that serve korean food as good as you will find anywhere in Korea.

As for special toast, nope, same old unique Korean combinations.

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