Asian Food Story – Bibimbap & Politics
Did you know?
Do you still remember Michael Jackson? Nobody doubts he was one of the best American pop singer in history. However, did you know he was a big fan of Bibimbap? Michael Jackson, who came to Seoul to celebrate the inauguration of President Kim Dae-jung in February 1998, was fascinated by bibimbap. When he left Seoul, he learned recipes and bought ingredients for his exclusive chef. At that time, the Shilla Hotel, Michael Jackson stayed, had a ‘MJ Bibimbap’ meal named after him.
What is Bibimbap?
Bibim (비빔) translates as “mixed,” and bap (밥) means “cooked rice,” so it simply translates to “mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables“ It’s made of a bowl of rice, sautéed and seasoned vegetables, a bit of hot pepper paste and usually a bit of seasoned beef too. Before eating it you’re supposed to mix everything all together.
There are some common saying where Bibimbap comes from. One of story is that it was traditionally eaten on the eve of the lunar new year as the people at that time felt that they had to get rid of all of the leftover side dishes before the new year. The solution to this problem was to put all of the leftovers in a bowl of rice and to mix them together. It is also thought to have been eaten by farmers during farming season as it was the easiest way to make food for a large number of people. Bibimbap was served to the king usually as a lunch or a between-meal snack as well.
Lots of ingredients are needed to make a Bibimbap. Each ingredient tastes different. However, tastes completely changes as different ingredients are mixed together with different sauces. “Mix and Eat” that’s how we are supposed to enjoy Bibimbap.
What does it mean to us?
It applies to the politics as well. The process of mixing ingredients with sauces is the negotiation and conversation in politics. People who have to play a role should be political leader.
The world we live in, like a bunch of bibimbap ingredients, brings together a variety of people to create small groups, communities, and nations. Huge diversity and different thoughts may cause lots of try & errors. However, their common goal is to live together harmoniously, so we must recognize the differences and work together.
Because of the Bibimbap sprit(?), many of Politian in Korea have Bibimbap with opponents when they want to resolve critical issues. President Moon invited group of chairman from big corporations and served Bibimbap to deliver message that I don’t want to just mix the difference but I respect each one of you and want to make harmony with you.
Former president Park prepared Bibimbap at the welcoming dinner party during Korea-China-Japan president talk 2015. Chinese Prime Minister Li said that we need to reduce tensions among neighboring countries and build harmony together just like Bibimbap.
I can say Berlin is a City of Bibimbap not because Bibimbap is popular but Berlin is an international city with variety of people from all over the world. Each one of us keep our individual identity and harmonize together as a Berliners just like Bibimbap.
What about sharing Bibimbap with someone you want to be close today? You may have a team building event by sharing Bibimbap. Angela Merkel might need some Bibimbap as well.
Let’s have Bibimbap together!