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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Korean food and drinking culture

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When most people think of Korean food, they think of kimchi, Korea's staple side dish which, along with rice, accompanies almost every meal. Although it is an acquired taste, many long-term foreigners also find themselves missing the flavor of kimchi if they have too many meals without it. While many Korean dishes are unfamiliar at first, they are not really that different from some Western foods. See our database of Korean food, with descriptions, pictures, spiciness levels, and average price ranges.

Life in Korea presents recipes for some popular Korean dishes.
Learn how to make your favorite Korean food easily.
Recipes include side dishes, main dishes, and street foods.

Korea has all kinds of eating establishments, ranging from street vendors (pojangmachas) and hole-in-the-wall shikdangs (small restaurants) to high-priced, formal restaurants will full-course meals. In between you can find many types of medium-sized places offering a wide range of food types, including traditional Korean food, fast food, Western and other non-Korean dishes. Happily, tipping is not customary in Korea.

Korean Table Manners
Food is an important aspect of Korean life. Life in Korea offers some simple tips for eating Korean food properly and show respect to your hosts and the people eating with you.

With their meals, Korean rarely drink anything but a little water or poricha (barley tea). However, when they drink, they drink a wide variety of beverages. Tea and coffee shops abound. In addition to beer (several domestic and imported brands are readily available), Korea has many different types of traditional alcoholic drinks, with soju being the most popular. Other common drinks include makgeolli and dong-dong-ju (both whitish colored drinks made from rice or potatoes).

Drinking establishments range from the same pojangmachas where you can eat to upscale night clubs with expensive table charges. In between are a variety of bars, pubs, hofs, and rock cafes. Note that there is a lot of overlap as patrons can buy drinks at some restaurants and eat at most drinking establishments.

Korean Drinking Manners
In the past, Korean drinking customs were steeped in tradition and ceremony, especially in showing respect and courtesy. Nowadays, customs take into account hygiene and respect the wishes of people to not drink too much. Life in Korea suggests some basic tips for making your drinking experiences more enjoyable in Korea.

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