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State dinner diplomacy

Posted November. 08, 2017 07:58,   

Updated November. 08, 2017 08:47


The movie “Julie & Julia” is about legendary cook Julia Child who introduced French dishes to American households. The very first dish you see in the movie is a pan fried sole. In the movie “Burnt,” which is a story about chefs striving to receive three stars in Michelin's inaugural guide, you will also see a dish made with sole. Sole Meunière is a classic French dish you will see in famous Western restaurants. To make Sole Meunière, we need to slice the sole, coat both sides of the fillets with flour and saute them with butter. It tastes somewhat similar to Korean dish “jeon.”

Koreans enjoy sole in many styles: We stir fry, steam, boil down, or eat them in sashimi. In the northern region, people made sikhae with sole, which was later introduced to the southern area by the refugees who fled to the South during the Korean War. In Hamgyong Province in the North, the home of noodles with raw fish, people put sole on top of noodles made with potato and enjoyed them together. Korean poet Baek Suk, whose home town was Jeongjoo in North Pyongan Province, used to sing, "White rice, sole, and I/ Together, we could talk about anything."

Grilled sole from Geoje Island in South Gyeongsang Province was served at a state dinner Tuesday for the leaders of South Korea and the United States. President Moon Jae-in's parents fled to the South during the Korean War and settled down in the island. Sole is known to be U.S. President Donald Trump's favorite fish. When President Moon visited the United States in June, he was feted with a sole dish at the White House. "We considered President Moon's preference for fish," explained a White House official, but a sole dish was also served for Chinese President Xi Jinping when he paid visit to the United States in April.

After the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement took effect in 2012, imports of U.S. seafood have increased significantly. Nevertheless, Trump has been calling for renegotiation of the KOR-US FTA, and if it takes place, a full-scale opening of the seafood sector may come sooner than we had expected, according to the Korea Maritime Institute. That is why a comment from South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae that "Sole from Geoje Island is more chewy than soles from any other regions," sounds more significant. At the state dinner, grilled Korean beef ribs from Gochang in North Jeolla Province instead of one imported from the United States were served. State dinners are not only the means to show the host country's respect for the guest but also the means to deliver diplomatic messages.