When Has Your Meal Had A Story Like This?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


So much more than the “leeks, onions, garlic, and other greens” that swim amidst the odd presence of sliced hotdogs and Spam, one of Korea’s favorite dishes, Budae Jjigae, is a stew with a backstory not likely associated with most meals, as TheExpeditioner.com’s own Jon Wick finds out in this piece.

Arising out of the ashes that was Korea following the Korean War, Budae Jjigae is more a stew of necessity, consisting of whatever Koreans could scrounge from the earth and from the packs of American G.I.’s (which explains the use of Spam).  As one Korean explains to Jon, “The U.S. soldiers would give away their army food to local people and they make this stew . . . U.S. Army very good to us. It was a very, very bad time.”

So where can you go to try the best? Head north from Seoul to Uijeongbu Odeng Shik-dang and get in line to visit what many Koreans consider to be the best joint serving this odd concoction. I have to admit, this makes my impending dinner of ramen from a bag look kind of lame now.

  • Thanks for the link, Matt! This article was one of my favorite to write based solely on the uniqueness of the dish- it's a cultural, historical, and personal lesson in a bowl. The Korean war still lingers in the memory of older Koreans, who went through the bleak times following the war, when this dish emerged. I don't know if anything like this exists in the U.S, if so, I'd love to hear about it, but it these types of stories that enrich your travels abroad. Who knew bits of floating Spam could offer so much?

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