Whether traveling to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Olympics or for a holiday getaway, both will require you to plan in a pit stop for food! Whether you are daring and enjoy trying new foods or can only consume certain foods, here are a few cuisines to try and indulge in!
A Pyeongchang Culinary Passport
Aside from well-known Korean food items such as Korean BBQ, kimchi, tteokbokki, and bibimbap, there are a variety of foods that one can experience. What gives Korean cuisine its uniqueness from other foods is its blend of tastes: sweet, savory, and a kick of spice to give a whole new level of taste complexity. At other times, it’s the simplicity of the clean, fresh taste that enunciates the flavors of Korean cuisine.
As tourists flood in from every corner of the world to watch the Olympic games, many will come from various gastronomical backgrounds. As an initiative to promote Korean food to the larger global audience, the Korean Food Foundation (KFF), which was established in 2010, has worked with local and global food critics to craft a slightly more modern menu of Korean foods as well as accommodating dietary restrictions of the diverse visitors, athletes, and attendees to the Olympic games to boost the interest in food tourism in Korea. Check out the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics Food Vision Sustainability Report to learn more about how Korea plans to accommodate the dietary food needs of a diverse audience.
Buckwheat is For Lovers
As buckwheat is gaining more popularity, some people may recall it from the K-Drama Goblin. But other than a romantic gesture, buckwheat is used in a variety of foods, especially in Pyeongchang. Should you get the chance to travel to different regions of Korea, you can quickly learn and taste the various regional products used in its cuisines. One of Pyeongchang’s well-known regional staples is buckwheat. Boasting of their fresh air and nurturing nature scenescape, buckwheat is a staple ingredient for foods such as buckwheat noodles 막국수 (makguksu), buckwheat tea 메밀차 (memilcha), as well as the famous buckwheat jelly 메밀묵 (memilmuk), which, despite jelly reminding westerners of a sweet treat, is a savory food.
Beefing It Up
Another regional specialty is Korean hanwoo, 한우 (beef), which is raised and fed in the highlands in Pyeongchang and is famous in Korea for its fat marbling. Since Korea’s mountainous geography doesn’t support a large quantity of agricultural and grazing animals, Korean raised and grazed beef is a premium delicacy. Many attribute the taste due to the grazing area in which the cows are bred and raised. Known as “happy 700,” Pyeongchang boasts a nurturing natural and eco-friendly environment where the animals are raised. 700 refers to the elevation above sea level in meters, which is said to be a large contributing factor to the unique taste of the region. Definitely check out Daekwallyeong Hanwoo Town restaurant to give his famous beef a taste!
Fresh Fun and Fish!
A third food that comes to mind when Pyeongchang is mentioned is rainbow trout. Like the growing conditions for buckwheat and beef, rainbow trout is also raised in farms using the water from local streams and springs for Pyeongchang’s unique aquaculture. Starting from December to the end of January, the Pyeongchang Trout Festival invites visitors from all over to come to the fish farms to indulge in various fishing events and enjoy trout. Ranging from fishing ponds to ice fishing to barehanded fishing, the festivals give visitors an opportunity to experience every step of how the food goes from farm to plate!
Food to Bring the World Together
While the Olympics is a chance for people from nations all around the world to gather and challenge each other during the games to determine the best in the world, it is also a time that the world comes together as one. With more and more cultural awareness growing in Korea, restaurants and facilities have become more popular for those with dietary restrictions. Within the past few years, there has been an increase in Muslim food-friendly restaurants which serve halal foods. YallaKOREA, a tourism company targeted at Muslim and Arab tourists, provides services such as helping their clients find halal-friendly restaurants to enjoy the local cuisine as food tourism increases. Many other dietary restrictions such as vegetarian or vegan can also be accommodated with increased awareness and planning as cafes and restaurants that specialize in vegan-friendly meals have also been on the rise. Since much of Korea’s staple foods tend to be vegetable based, many dishes can be substituted with more vegetables or tofu. Whatever your food preference or restriction is, take the chance during the 2018 Olympics to try something new, learn about the local cuisines, and make new friends as the closest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach!