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[Dramas and Food] The cereal killer


Father Is Strange

By @owl

I read about the new Dramabeans theme while watching Let’s Eat 2. Coincidence? I think not. Korean food seems especially apropos to “eating deliciously”—a phrase often used in K-dramas. For the first year after I got hooked on K-dramas, I marathoned into the wee hours of the morning and subsisted on dry cereal out of the box with lots and lots of coffee.

I didn’t pay much attention to the food in K-dramas as I had to concentrate on the subs and names of people and places. The food aspect was secondary, but not for long. Because I don’t have to think very hard to associate a food with practically every K-drama I’ve ever watched. For example, Coffee Prince (waffles, black bean noodles, handcrafted coffee); Rooftop Prince (omurice); Pasta (haha, pasta!); You’re Beautiful (shrimp—remember Tae-kyung’s allergy? Because his own mother didn’t, sniff); I’m Sorry I Love You (kimbap, Moo-hyuk yelling, “Make me kimchi!”); Faith (dumplings); History of a Salaryman (what was that poor chicken’s name that Yeo-chi unceremoniously served up on a platter?); You From Another Star (the famous chicken and beer combo); Boys Before Flowers (Jun-pyo eating dry ramyun because he doesn’t know how to cook it, pfft); Warm and Cozy (Hallabong oranges); Modern Farmer (cabbages); Temperature of Love (the special engagement dessert for another guy and your girl); Moorim School (buffet); Father Is Strange (love is being fed kimbap by your real/not real dad); Heartless City (no food, just highball glasses of amber scotch); Master: God of Noodles (buckwheat noodles). That barely scratches the surface. I could go on—and that’s only K-dramas. I’ll bet your mind is automatically making K-drama-food associations right now!


Temperature of Love

I began to think about Korean food-related shows I’ve watched. Well, there’s Please Take Care of My Refrigerator (how many times have I watched the episode with G-Dragon and Taeyang?), Thank You for the Food, Baek Jong Won’s Alley Restaurants, Barefoot Friends (UEE can eat massive lettuce wraps), Battle Trip (simply amazing food and travel), 1 Night 2 Days which is all about the next meal (or not), and Kang’s Kitchen, a spinoff of New Journey to the West where our handsome Ahn Jae-hyun maintains a calm kitchen while Ho-dong frantically whips up platter-sized pork cutlets.

I began to wonder—could I make Korean food that tasted good? It was sort of a natural progression, after all. I picked up a cookbook called Koreatown and thumbed through it, at first just looking at the many inviting full-page pictures. The chefs certainly do a good job of explaining ingredients and making associations between food and their Korean origins. I picked two recipes to try—pajeon (because Defcon made pajeon at a food cart once on 1N2D and made it look easy), and Andong jjimdak (Korean braised chicken) because the picture was phenomenally mouthwatering. Even our local store in a smaller community carried many of the ingredients. Ta-da!

The most common answer I hear in K-dramas to the question, “What do you like to eat?” is “meat,” often pork belly or bulgogi. Recently, I mustered up the courage and tackled the more complicated bulgogi recipe. I can’t describe how happy it made me to share it with friends and watch them eat it deliciously. Take it from me, a person who’d never eaten Korean food before K-dramas and who is a fair-weather cook—making Korean food is really fun and rewarding.

Come to think of it, food, K-dramas, and I are virtually inseparable now. It just happened. Once in a blue moon I’ll still dig into a box of cereal because I’m lazy, but more often than not, K-dramas and dinner or a midnight snack (ramyun, yes!) make for double comfort in the real world, where we need plenty of that.


Let’s Eat 2

 
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I wish I hadn't read this, because now I'm hungry.
No, it was good. I loved your (incomplete) list of how food was featured in different shows. I have learned how to make Korean pancakes and Korean dumplings, just because they looked so tasty while I was watching Korean dramas. My Girlfriend is a gummiho. "MEAT!" (or cow.) Thank you for writing this. Now I'm going to go into the kitchen and build me some lettuce wraps.

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Oh, I forgot to add, my hub learned how to make knife cut noodles after watching some drama with me.
Yum. . .noodles--

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@barbara-fox Wag-a-muffin,

How lovely that your hubby learned to make noodles! And that you make your own mandoo and pancakes. They always look so delicious in Kdramas. ;-)

For fantastic noodle pron, check out the weekend family drama HAPPY FAMILY (a misnomer). In it, a hyung caring for his orphaned dongsaengs starts out as a jjajangmyeon delivery boy, and after learning to cook in various shops, eventually opens a noodle stall with his wife. Later he expands to ever more elaborate sit-down restaurants as his prowess grows. But he couldn't have gotten where he is today without the significant contribution of his sous chef daughter-in-law. Alas, his son is a total screw-up, and his coddled siblings have not been allowed to grow up. His daughter marries an executive with a dragon for a mother. All the while, we are treated to mouthwatering scenes of food preparation and consumption.

In the captivating Chinese-Korean drama HAPPY NOODLE, Kim Tak-goo abandons bread and goes whole hog as an apprentice noodle chef in search of his Chinese dad. Yoon Si-yoon treks to China, and meets a master whose Japanese rival proposes a winner-takes-all contest. Call it NOODLES, LOVE AND DREAMS. Sweet. And deadly for those of us addicted to boiled dough. ;-)

While watching Kdramas, I've resorted to chowing down on ramyeon with egg and added veggies. Or small gyoza or mandoo (of the frozen Korean kind, available from Costco).

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I had lettuce wraps this week myself! According to Soo-Ji in Let's Eat 2, lettuce wraps were used to stretch the meal when there was very little meat available. By wrapping lettuce leaves around the meat, garlic, and whatever else, everyone could feel full.

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I do believe that that's the reason for the lettuce wrap because that's basically also the reasons why mexicans eat tortillas with everything.

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What a lovely post! I was laughing so hard at “Temperature of Love (the special engagement dessert for another guy and your girl)” because that was honestly the most ridiculous move a second lead ever pulled.

I usually only crave ramen whenever I watch k-dramas. Korean food looks amazing but their seasoning doesn’t sit quite right with me. I tried several dishes in Korean restaurants but nothing really intrigued me.

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@aisling,

What especially cracked me up about that special dessert in TEMPERATURE OF LOVE was Yang Se-jong's tweezer-fu as he installed the borage blossoms on it. (Bees love them, BTW. It's a great nectar flower.)

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Lol.....is that blossom edible or is it just an decorative item? Temperature of Love did make me wish for special someone who cook for me...The most memorable food porn for me is the scallop wine dessert, I was really curious how it would taste like....I also remember wishing I could have the breakfast that he prepared for her.

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LOVE THE TITLE. And the content of course - I tried cooking with bulgogi sauce one day (first acquisition at the kfood shop), and it was a petite disaster. So I admire all these beanie chefs. *bows in respect*

Also: "Cereal... never far away, better will someday, never far awaaaaay" ....I associate dramas with songs - and I hear about cereal in Goblin. Random contribution of the day.

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Well, I've had a "petite disaster" or two myself, but keep trying!

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Lol now I'll never hear that song the same way again 😂

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@owl22 Owl,

Many thanks for a wonderful essay. You had me drooling on my keyboard. ;-)

Thanks so much for your pointer to the Koreatown cookbook. Co-author Deuki Hong currently works at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong in Midtown NYC. Holy cow! Just looking at their website was a trip. It's almost enough to make me willing to cross the Hudson.

One of my fave Kshows has been THREE MEALS A DAY with Eric as chief cook. I found it so relaxing and meditative to watch him work. I haven't seen the series with Chajumma, which by all accounts are replete with terrific grinds.

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You could eat at the actual restaurant, wow!

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I wanted to give a heads-up to all the NYC area Beanies, and any who are coming to Newark for K-Con. Or who might come to NYC on business. Be sure to check out one of the area jjimjilbangs. ;-)

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What a loverly write-up, @owl22! K-dramas and food are a mix that must always be kept together, just in terms of necessity. I always need some ramen or kimchi on hand when I’m watching, or else I’ll get all hangry and annoyed. 😂

“Eat deliciously” seems like such a caring phrase, I’m glad you were able to see your friends do so with your food.

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"Waffles, hope, and hugs" - that's in keeping with this K-drama theme! Ramyun is really fun to doctor up with greens, snap peas, and other leftover tidbits. One thing I don't get, though, is when they place a slice of cheese on top of raymun or other foods - in my opinion it's better without. (I guess I'm a cheese and crackers only gal.) Eating deliciously is contagious-watching someone enjoy food makes it automatically taste even better!

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Hehe, I added it to my official title after some turmoil in Poetryland, but what a lovely bit of serendipity!

Oh, I agree. Bring an egg in, some gochujang, green onions.. The best. But cheese? I’ll save that for my sandwiches and lasagna.

That’s how I feel! Half the beauty of food is sharing it with someone who loves it.

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This was a really well written story of a great threesome (you, food, and kdramas), and makes me wish I was one of your friends so that I could also eat your Korean food deliciously ~ ^_^

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Wouldn't a beanie potluck be wonderful!

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Ah, that sounds so lovely ~

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You had me at Cereal Killer. Thanks for the laugh.

I don't eat cereals for breakfast but it's always been bread. That makes Korean breakfast look like a banquet if you know what I mean.

How was your pajeon? I'd prefer them to be lighter and a little crispy at the edges instead of the doughy pancake which I sometimes get. I've tried various mixes and recipes without much success. I managed to get hold of a premix which gave what I wanted but alas the store doesn't carry it anymore.

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The chefs in the cookbook, Koreatown, even suggest using the mix. I think I had to send away for it, but it's a pretty good-sized bag (*running to the pantry to check* . . . it's Korean Pancake Mix, a product of Korea distributed by CJ Foods Inc.). I agree-lighter and crispy at the edges.

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Thank you! The chefs did? I might have tried CJ brand of pancake before, I can't remember. There's a brand which has both normal and crispy versions.

I have tried adding baking soda, cold water and even spritzer water to make it crispy.

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you'll never go wrong with the mix! I learned this the hard way,sadly 😧

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The pancake mix is great. I used to use plain flour but the pancake mix gives a much better texture. I think i’ve got the Beksul brand.

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@owl22 This was incredibly funny and heartwarming to read because it took me down memory lane, recalling all the memories associated to food in the drama. The kimbap in Father Is Strange was apt and so were all the other linkings.
I wished we had Korean ingredients here but cooking variety shows will have to do. Please Take Care of My Refrigerator is my current fav because they're fighting against time(and I too have watched GD's +Taeyangs 2 eps countless times)

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The orange hair, so cute!

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@owl22 I had so much fun reading this but I was also spazzing when you mentioned GD and Taeyang's Please Take Care of My Refrigerator and Kang's Kitchen aaaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaaaa my loves

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I should have mentioned Song Min Ho’s barista talent, too!

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I didn't try and mention Mino because you didn't actually mention it in your article but YES

*spoken like a true IC and VIP*

But seriously, the image of being a cereal killer in the wee hours of the night while binging kdramas is not an unfamiliar sight. Although I do away with other snack-y items and not cereal. Heh

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Thank you for your wonderful story @owl22 :-)
So how did the pajeon & Andong jjimdak turn out on your first try? (you haven't mentioned it, although it probably turned out well, I'm just asking out of curiosity 😛)

And now I'm hungry for some ramen cuz I'm a noodler.🍜 *dashing to the kitchen to make some run!*

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Both dishes turned out well, actually. I followed the recipes which I’m known not to do and get varying results that way. Have you tried making any Korean dishes?

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Actually I never have, except for the instant ramen lol but that's not strictly Korean so it doesn't count.

Anyway, that's why I ask people who have tried Korean food & make it for first time, about how it turns out... :-)

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Food was definitely one of the first things that I noticed about kdramas starting from my very first kdrama Secret Garden and the fact that Kim JooWon refused to eat certain foods at first cause he was so snooty but Gil Raim ate them with so much gusto. Anyway I enjoyed reading your paragraph about what foods you associate with dramas...for me personally I always associate Coffee Prince with kimchi rice and when I think of Temperature of Love i think of truffles (which are apparently a type of mushroom), homemade caramels, and of course gourmet food.

I should pick up a korean recipe book...I did buy a jar of kimchi recently so have been thinking of making a kimchi pancake :D

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Check the library for Korean cookbooks, too. I especially enjoy the background information that some of the cookbooks offer. You can get a little history of the country that way .

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I love this! Reminded me of my slightly similar experience venturing into Korean food. My only favorite cuisine was Chinese for the longest time,but after Kdramas came into my life sometime in 2000,I first drooled over the food featured in kdramas, and then I accidently found some great Korean restaurants in Metro Manila run by Koreans who lived here even before the explosion of K-wave here.

But since I live few hours away from the Business District (mainly cause of traffic! 😳) and was curious & wanted to try cooking on my own so I bought a Korean recipe book. My first attempt at making pajeon was a total disaster 😳

And as luck or fate would have it,right after college grad in 2006,I got restless at home & cut short my "rest from 16 years of continued education" break and ended up as a tutor to Korean kids who were here for Korean summer and learning basic English.

One of the Moms saw me enjoying the lunchbox (bulgogi with about 8 side dishes) her kids gave me as a present for that week, and she told me she's glad that I seem to like their food and how I enjoyed it. The next day, she gave me ingredients for Kimchi Stew. And that was how I started really learning and trying how to cook Korean food. Plus a had kimchi supply for those 2 months. 😜

These days, I seldom cook anything (except for ramyun or instant noodles) and when I do crave for Korean food there's always one nearby. But I still make my own lettuce/cabbage kimchi 😉

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What could be more comforting than a lunchbox present from your students, how sweet! I have yet to try Kimchi Stew, but I hope someone who knows how to make it deliciously offers to make it for me to try someday!

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I love those scenes in dramas where the lead girl/ family makes bibimbap. Get a bowl of fluffly white rice and add hot pepper paste, and add everything edible in the fridge and mix and eat with a huge spoon and within seconds gobble everything down. I would want to try that someday , those days i feel too lazy to cook. That kind of bibimbap informal though, but it seems really delicious.

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"Ad everything edible in the fridge and mix" - isn't that the truth! But a great way to make leftovers into something delicious!

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You made me remember that I first made omurice because it looked so easy in Rooftop Prince. Thank you for all the inspiration, I need a korean cookbook myself🍜🍛🍱🍙

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If I recall, they doused it with ketchup, though. That's where I draw the line; maybe chili sauce, but not ketchup, at least not on my omurice. We all have our food preferences, don't we!

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I have my home made ketchup, that makes it slighly better, right? 🍅

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Homemade ketchup? Wow that’s impressive in itself!

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Actually it is quite easy.

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I Really Really Like You was the first drama that really got my attention with Korean food. The main female lead made these flower pancakes?...things? They were so pretty and I wanted to try them. Years later and I still do not know what they are.

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