If you are like me, you will have spent an indecent amount of time devouring the latest stories and documentaries on the growing South Korean street food trends, or at least linger around the fascinating cinematography of emerging Korean film.
I was thrilled to hear that a little taste of Korea’s food and film would take a turn to touch the hearts of those inhabiting South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, where I’d been living for 3 years.
The Korean Film & Food Festival came at a time where Pretoria’s purple paradise was making its grand entry. In an arts institute tucked away in Centurion, locals and curious people made their way to find out what the fuss was all about.
Besides the usual chopstick fluff (which can quickly become a master class for those who have acquired the skill), the experience began with a sudden rush of eagerness.
There was so much to eat, after all, it was a food festival, and time was of the essence!
I started with what I knew, so I ran to what looked like noodles, and then the rice, until the epiphany settled in that I had been mingling with Korea’s best kept secret, bibimpap, a mixyure of everything heavenly.
The Gimbap was next in line as part of my food trecking experience. Looks do matter, as I was easily fooled into believing this was some sort of sushi derivative, only to find out it tastes completely different. Koreans sure do have a thing for flavours, and mixing them, without overwhelming your body with the intensity of its gastronomy.
Gimbap is light, a bite-size refreshment that you won’t remember to stop eating, not unless the Kimchi next to it keeps on demanding some attention.
And then it gets it. Kimchi, I guess, was really the start of the show. It had the front page, and all other pages, to be honest, of the day’s menu. Korea’s celebration in one single dish, that unites everything that is both known and unknown about Korea’s most magnificent kitchens.
It tasted genuine, as if it had been cooked for one to enjoy while overlooking a quiet river.
The dessert, but certainly not the end of the meal, was the Shaved Ice Cream that caused a certain commotion.
Thousands of hyperbolatic years were spent in line, waiting to receive a mere taste of what this bold dish had to offer.
And it was all worth it.
The stall closed shortly after I got it, but the remainders of its taste in my mouth still make my salivary glands shiver.