Many staples of Korean cuisine are increasingly appearing on restaurant menus and in grocery stores across the country. Kimchi, or fermented vegetables, for example, is one that may ring a bell.
And since the early 1990s, nearby Midtown Manhattan — known as K-town or Korea-town — has been a popular destination for Korean food, serving up everything from Korean barbeque to coffee and desserts.
Now East Enders will have a chance to experience the hype. On October 11 at the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, the Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, with branches in Queens, New York, as well as in Germany and London — will put on “Taste of Korea: Full of Wisdom and Nature,” a cooking demonstration that will offer attendees a window into Korean culture.
“We want to share the beautiful heritage of Korea, and share the food, culture and history,” Yon Han, KSCPP’s project coordinator — who will be doing the cooking demonstration herself with five additional presenters — said in a phone interview. “That’s our goal.”
KSCPP was founded in 2005 by Kim Jae Woong to promote Korean history and culture. According to the organization’s website, the founder believes that “the fate of a nation rests upon the education of its people.” In addition to the cooking demos, KSCPP conducts research and publishes books on Korea, produces documentary films, holds essay contests, gives educational presentations on the country, and more.
To date, KSCPP has distributed over 785,000 copies of its books for free. “That’s a lot,” Ms. Han said, laughing. Further, it has hosted over 12,000 complementary presentations across the world and, in the states specifically, presented at more than 700 libraries.
“We just want to repay to the countries who helped Korea during the Korean War, in particular the U.S.,” Ms. Han said. “The United States helped Korea during the Korean War very much and the young Americans sacrificed their lives there, so we want to repay the debt and give our gratitude.”
The cooking demonstration at John Jermain Memorial Library will showcase four different traditional Korean dishes, among them: bulgogi, thin beef slices that are marinated and grilled, also known as Korean barbeque; bibimbap, or rice mixed with vegetables; and, kimchi salad, fermented vegetables often composed of cabbage. There will also be dessert.
All of the food will be served on traditional Korean tableware, called bangjja, too. “It’s a very unique and special tableware,” Ms. Han said, noting that there are few, if any,restaurants in New York City or Manhattan that serve using this type of bronzeware.
In fact, due to the ratio of copper and tin, the bronzeware itself has many health benefits, Ms. Han said. It’s said to prevent food poisoning, keep food fresh for longer periods of time and enhance the taste of food.
“With the whole program, they can understand a little bit about Korea and experience Korean culture,” Ms. Han said of the upcoming cooking demonstration, noting that the presenters will also dress in traditional Korean clothing.
“It’s a nice way for us to provide a variety and diversity,” said Wonda Miller, assistant director at John Jermain Memorial Library, of Taste of Korea.“They [KSCPP] do go in a little more depth—this particular group touches on the cultural aspects of the Korean community.”
“Taste of Korea: Full of Wisdom and Nature” will be held at John Jermain Memorial Library on October 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. Registration is free but limited.