Eating Korean in America

Eating Korean in America: Gastronomic Ethnography of Authenticity

Sonia Ryang
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Eating Korean in America
    Book Description:

    Can food be both national and global at the same time? What happens when a food with a national identity travels beyond the boundaries of a nation? What makes a food authentically national and yet American or broader global?

    With these questions in mind, Sonia Ryang explores the world of Korean food in four American locations, Iowa City, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Hawai'i (Kona and Honolulu). Ryang visits restaurants and grocery stores in each location and observes Korean food as it is prepared and served to customers. She analyzes the history and evolution of each dish, how it arrived and what it became, but above all, she tastes and experiences her food-four items to be specific-naengmyeoncold noodle soup;jeonpancakes;galbibarbecued beef; andbibimbap, rice with mixed vegetable.

    In her ethnographic journey, Ryang discovers how the chewy noodles from Pyongyang continue to retain their texture and yet are served differently in different locales.Jeonpancakes become completely decontextualized in the United States and metamorphosed into a portable and packable carry-out food. American consumers are unaware of the pancake's sacred origin. In Hawai'i, Ryang finds that it is the Vietnamese restaurant that serves unexpectedly deliciousgalbibarbecued meat. Intertwined in the complex colonial and postcolonial contexts, Koreangalbiand Japaneseyakinikucan be found side by side on the streets of Honolulu frequented by both the locals and tourists.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-5491-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    When thinking about Korean food in the United States, a question immediately presents itself. Can a food still bear a national identity even after it has traveled beyond the boundaries of the nation in which it originated? This book attempts to explore some of the challenges prompted by this question, which at first appears innocuous but on closer examination reveals a contradiction.

    At the outset, it is necessary to emphasize that the Korean food I will be introducing in this book may not be so Korean after all, as this will depend on how we define the national identity of...

  5. 1 A Global Slurp: Naengmyeon Noodles
    (pp. 21-38)

    It is easy to forget that you are in America as you walk through Los Angeles’ Koreatown surrounded by Korean language signs of different types and sizes. Greater Los Angeles has the largest Korean American population in the country (over 334,000 in 2010). To put this figure in context, there were 1,042,580 Korean-born immigrants in the country as a whole in 2007 (Terrazas 2009). Th is district featured widely on the world news scene in 1992 when it became the center of mass rioting and looting in the violent aftermath of the acquittal of police officers involved in the brutal...

  6. 2 Food for the Ancestors: Jeon Pancakes
    (pp. 39-55)

    Spread around an inlet near the top of Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is a unique mid-Atlantic city. First settled by the Englishman David Jones in 1661, Baltimore has a long history of Colonial settlement. It played a key role in the events that led to the United States achieving independence from the United Kingdom and was also a center for the North American slave trade. The city continued to grow throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, not only in population and physical size, but also in economic, financial, and political importance. It was near the city’s Fort McHenry that the British...

  7. 3 Two Colonizations and Three Migrations: Grilling Galbi
    (pp. 56-83)

    When thinking about Korean immigration to the United States, one cannot avoid talking about Hawai‘i, a state in which 40 percent of the population identifies as Asian, not only because it was the first place in the United States on which Korean immigrants set foot, but also because of its multicultural tradition, removed as it is from the U.S. mainland. Koreans migrated to Hawai‘i before Korea formally became a Japanese colony. The precolonial aspect of Korean migration to Hawai‘i is crucial to understanding the unique attributes of the Korean food found on the islands. Most of the Koreans in Los...

  8. 4 A Taste of Diversity: The Bibimbap Rice Bowl
    (pp. 84-104)

    By the time Hawai‘i fell at the hands of U.S. annexationists in 1898, Iowa had already been a U.S. state for close to half a century. According to the official version of the state’s history, Iowa was “discovered” by French explorers in the 1670s. But, of course, native peoples had been living here for centuries before that, with approximately seventeen tribes living in the area now known as the heartland of America, including the Ioway, Sauk, Mesquaki, Sioux, Potawatomi, Oto, and Missouri (Schwieder n.d.). While life on the prairies was undoubtedly tough for the early settlers, increases in agricultural output...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 105-120)

    In his seminal essay proposing the emergence of the multisited ethnography, George Marcus wrote: “For ethnographers interested in contemporary local changes in culture and society, single-sited research can no longer be easily located in a world-system perspective. This perspective has become fragmented, indeed, ‘local’ at its very core . . .” (1995:98). One of the pivots of this new ethnographic method, multisited ethnography, Marcus continued, would involve the “follow the thing” technique, which, according to him, was best exemplified in Sidney Mintz’s study of the production and consumption of sugar (1985). That study, set on a global world-historical scale encompassing...

  10. References
    (pp. 121-132)
  11. Index
    (pp. 133-138)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 139-141)