The Kimchi Chronicles

Thursday, January 12th, 2012 | Posted under Food Culture, Reviews, Television

My love of Korean food has already been documented here on the blog, so when I heard that there was going to be a food show on PBS higlighting Korean cuisine called the Kimchi Chronicles, I was pretty amped. I have often wondered why Korean food doesn’t get the same amount of attention as say Chinese, Japanese or even Thai food does in the U.S. (Anyone wanna take a guess?)

In some respects the host of the show, Marja Vongerichten, seems on the outside to be an unlikely candidate to introduce us to Korean food. She’s the wife of Jean Georges Vongerichten, one of the most highly regarded and successful chefs in the U.S. (Maybe it’s not too surprising then that she’s hosting her own show?). However, Marja was born in Korea to a Korean mother and African-American father and was given up for adoption during her childhood in part because of the social hardships that many biracial children faced in Korea. She grew up in the United States and was reunited with her birth mother in her late teens. Kimchi Chronicles is part travelogue, cooking show and her personal story of cultural reconnection.

The show consists of a mix of cooking segments, ample eating time and historical and geographical information about Korea. Here’s a taste of the show:
They cook my favorite Korean dish, kimchi jigae!
I will admit to you that I’ve only seen a few episodes, but I think the show is a great introduction to Korean culture and food. Is it great TV? I’m not so sure. I wouldn’t say that Marja is the most engaging host, and sometimes the cooking segments seem a little forced, especially when Hugh Jackman and his wife are around.
Oh, yeah. He’s in it too. If you watch it for the first time, and he shows up out of nowhere, it’s a little jarring. Apparently, Hugh is a big fan of Korea, the Vongerichtens’ neighbor and really wanted to participate. Okay…..

I was ready to lick the screen while watching the show. Since I am still waiting for a few invites for homemade Korean food at friends’ homes or an eventual trip to Korea itself, Kimchi Chronicles is a great stand in experience and still by far one of the best shows I’ve seen that really teaches us about Korean food.
If you don’t get a chance to see the series and want to learn how to cook Korean food at home, there’s an accompanying cookbook.
I like surprise presents, everyone. Just kidding. I’m too intimidated to cook Korean food at home just yet.

Did anyone get a chance to see Kimchi Chronicles? What did you think of the show? If you’ve tried Korean cuisine before, what’s your favorite dish?

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Downton Abbey

Monday, January 9th, 2012 | Posted under Personal, Television

My Anglophilia is at it again. Last night was the premiere of the second season of my new favorite English period miniseries, Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey has all of the class conflict, marriage gossip and social maneuvering that you’d find in a Jane Austen novel, but in a changing world where people are beginning to use cars and telephones, and you might actually want to wear their clothes. The first season dealt briefly with the fight for women’s suffrage in England. This season begins in the middle of World War I, and there’s battle action swapped in for dinner parties this time around. If you liked the movie Gosford Park, then you’ll have to try Downton Abbey (It’s the same writer actually).
The cast is spectacular, and the costumes are drool-worthy. Downton Abbey won the Emmy for Best Miniseries back in September, as did Maggie Smith for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries. She has some of the best one-liners.
Check your local PBS station for the schedule; and UK readers, I know this has aired already, but please don’t give away any spoilers. 🙂

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