Monday, January 20, 2014

Jeonju Bibimbap Festival 2013

Happy New Year Noodle Lovers!

Yes I have yet again taken a long, long break away from my writing, but it did not go to waste. My trés adorbs' husband and I have been living the life. And sometimes, occasionally, when you're living life in love, you tend to roll into the moment and knowing me -- I stopped writing. But no more ! I have missed you all way way too much!

One of the best things about living in Korea for our family, has been all the access to the Korean culture, history and all the food. Now, when you put all of these things together, people, we have a festival! From October 24~27 Jeonju Hanok Cultural Village was host to the Bibimbap Festival this 2013. Culinary contests, food exhibitions, food samples, innovative methods of serving Bibimbap, activities, and an opportunity to walk around like a tourist, how could I resist?!

Jeonju, historically known as one of the most creative cities of Korea, also known for having one of THE best Bibimbap in the country. The Bibimbap, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of trying it yet, is a popular rice dish topped with colorful assorted vegetables. This can sometimes be vegetarian, or with meat / seafood, served in a sizzling cast iron or brass bowl. The wonderfulness that is Bibimbap lies in the quality and freshness of the ingredients. The crunch of the veggies and the fluffiness of the rice, all mixed and combined with a spicy gochujang (Korean chili paste) and sesame sauce, really makes the flavor of the Bibimbap memorable.

Now what makes the Jeonju Bibimbap worth traveling for, are the ingredients. The recipe for the Jeonju style bibimbap originates all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty Royal Courts, which is approximately over 5 centuries ago. It was reported that a Joseon Dynasty King used to live in Jeonju and thus Jeonju became the home of this unique recipe. The rice is cooked in a beef broth instead of water, and the vegetables and meat are accompanied by assorted beans, roots, Korean dates, sprouts, all with a high health value, great for longevity, immunity and it’s anti-aging properties.

Once we arrived at Hanok Village, we were truly captured by the traditional architecture and old style buildings, which were all over the village. We noted accommodations that offered the ‘traditional’ stay, for those seeking something a bit more authentic, as opposed to your resort / hotel vacation. But that will have to be a different trip of ours to Jeonju.

Engulfed by an ocean of people, crafts, food booths, there was a reported number of 190 vendors, musical street performers and many traditional style buildings for people to enter and view. We were wide-eyed and loving it!

Amazingly, Bibimbap was not the only food at this festival, streets were filled with Sugar snaps, corn dogs, fancy coffee shops, all kinds of Korean desserts, seafood pancakes, modern deco restaurants serving contemporary style bibimbap, bbq restaurants set inside traditional buildings, Hanok Village was a cultural hub with a plethora of food!

Promoting ‘Hansik’ or traditional Korean dining were high school and college students from all over South Korea, proudly standing beside their winning entries. Simultaneous to this display was also a live contest of culinary skills, where competitors, both local and foreign, were competing for National master chef titles in multiple contests to make the best Bibimbap.

Next, we witnessed festival organizers, in what I can only describe as the world’s LARGEST Bibimbap mixing bowl, serve over 800 servings of the Jeonju style bibimbap, at no cost! People lined up to get a taste of it, and it truly was an experience. My husband and I were quickly pushed into a line, out of it, and then back into the line to finally get a decent serving of Bibimbap. The flavor was aromatic, decadent, not too spicy, filled with lots of vegetables and meat, simply – it was delicious!

Food innovators had booths selling, bibimbap waffles, ‘bibimbap sushi rolls’, bibimbap sandwiches, bibimbap wrapped in rice paper rolls. By the end of the day, we were Bibimbap’d-out! We finished off our meal with a delicious Seafood pancake a cold glass of Chilsung cider and grabbed some sugar snaps for the road.

Every year the Bibimbap Festival is held on a different date, so I suggest keeping track of local festivals and events by browsing and visiting http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/

For more information on other notable and fun festivals around Korea, I have created an easy link for you, just visit http://bit.ly/koreanfestivals. As for me, I’m already planning my next weekend trip and looking forward to writing about it soon. J






















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