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Cuisine culture

Posted November. 19, 2010 11:31,   


Life without eating is unimaginable in France. A course that starts with aperitif to appetizer and includes fish or meat, cheese and dessert, and digestif is typical for a French course meal. The French hold endless conversations over the three-hour meal along with wine suitable for the cuisine. French media say the French vandalize McDonalds when they protest because fast food shakes their pride in French culture.

Unlike French meals that use tricks with rare food products, Mediterranean cuisine tries to retain the original taste of food by using tomatoes and olives. In Italy, a prime minister was forced to step down due to a dispute over cuisine. Massimo d’Alema, who became prime minister in 1988 from the Democratic Party of the Left, said before an election that he no longer has regret for the left, which consists of generous activists who distribute fliers, put up posters, and make tortellini. This comment drew strong protests. Tortellini is a kind of pasta from Bologna. Though he meant that he would not adopt leftist policy that does not reflect true leftist ideas, the majority of voters grew angry over this and his party lost the elections. The same fate would befall someone in Korea who made a derogatory comment about kimchi.

French, Mediterranean, and Mexican cuisines were added to the list of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Tuesday. Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco jointly applied for Mediterranean cuisine. Though intangible cultural heritage includes oral culture, cultural festivals, and traditional music and dance, this was the first time for food culture to be selected. Since cuisine itself cannot be put on the list, the countries focused on procuring food resources, table manners and setting, or cuisine-related stories. A cultural war over themes could ensue.

The Chinese, who have great pride in cooking, will feel uncomfortable in seeing the three culinary cultures put on the UNESCO list. In 2008, UNESCO rejected traditional Korean royal cuisine for inclusion on the list, warning against culinary culture from going commercial. Like the hit Korean historical drama “Jewel of the Palace,” Koreans think about yin-yang harmony along with the taste, nutrition and color of meals. The hope is that traditional Korean royal cuisine, which is designated Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 38 in Korea, will gain recognition on the global stage.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)