Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kimchi Making Festival (Nov. 15, 2014)

I would say that out of the many experiences I had here in Korea, learning how to make kimchi was one of the most memorable things I’ve done. This allowed me to learn more about Korean culture as well as how much effort it takes to prepare this unique food of Korea. The kimchi making experience I went on consisted of waking up early (around 9am), leaving Sinchang around 10:30am for Shinjung Lake Park, and making kimchi from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Particularly with this kimchi experience, it wasn’t just a lesson on making kimchi, it was also a festival to help for a good cause. The purpose of this kimchi festival was to produce as many boxes of kimchi that of which would be delivered to families in need during the winter. An interesting thing I learned was that it’s common to make kimchi during the wintertime. As far as the process of making kimchi, there was a lot of labor involved which definitely made me understand the hard work that needs to be put in to create such a wonderful side dish.

We love making kimchi!
When first arriving at the festival, there were many tents set up, camera crews everywhere, and everyone getting “suited up” to make kimchi. Prior to making kimchi, I knew that we had to suit up, but then I didn’t realize that there were so many things to put on. It was like a suit of armor. From hand gloves, arm gloves, aprons, to facemasks, I was surprised to see how much preparation goes in to the kimchi making process. Luckily, when it came to the actual production process, the sauce/base to make kimchi was already made. From there, we just needed to spread the base on the cabbages (that were previously brined in salt water). While making kimchi, the cabbages were like “pages” in a book. We would flip through each of the cabbage leaves and then spread the base (with generous amounts) leaf by leaf. This process went on for the next 4 hours, leaving only a 15-minute break.

At that time, the weather was a bit chilly especially during the morning hours. While making kimchi, my hands felt really cold because of the cold moisture from the cabbages and sauce/base. Although it was a chilly day, making the kimchi gave me a workout, which eventually increased my body temperature. While making kimchi, I really enjoyed the fact that we all worked together effectively, like an assembly line. Many of the Korean students that our group went with taught us how the process was. We danced, sang songs, which created a fun and memorable experience for all of us. From then on, we all did our part in producing a large amount of kimchi that would help so many Korean families in need.

Some of many boxes of kimchi that were made during the festival

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