I’m subscribing a monthly food magazine. I like this one because it explores diverse cuisines and has great columns on food trend, drinks, local spots, etc. It’s much better than other food magazines displaying same old generic recipes.
Last months, when I picked up the magazine from the mailbox, I was happy to find a Korean dish on the cover. It’s called Galbi Jjim which is marinated short rib stew with lots of spices and veggies that are good for the immune system. So it was perfect for their winter issue.
But when I read the article inside, I was disappointed that there’s no single word hinting that it’s a Korean dish or inspired by a Korean dish, especially considering the editor was a popular chef/food editor who’s a Korean-American.
The dish was named Short Rib Stew with Caramelized Kimchi, which translated fine but lacked the credit.
I emailed the magazine directing it to the editor and any other senior editors who finalized and approved the issue.
I got a response in a few weeks from the editor. She said the recipe was indeed Galbi jjim that she grew up eating. But the company often americanizes recipe titles for readers who may not be as knowledgeable or advanced in cooking. And they think that if readers see something familiar, they are more willing to try something new.
I had guessed this reason before emailing her. Yes, using a familiar name would be more comfortable for many readers. But this is not a Martha Stewart recipe magazine. It’s more for a food connoisseurs. They wouldn’t mind reading unfamiliar title of a dish, and trying to cook it. In fact, I’ve seen some recipes with its own name in this magazine.
So I emailed her back challenging more.
Readers have the right to know the origin of dish they cook. All I wished was to see one line that explained the dish is inspired by Korean Galbi Jjim so it actually introduces another great Korean cuisine other than Bulgogi and Bibimbap. While readers might guess it’s an Asian fusion dish because of Kimchi, they won’t necessarily know it’s actually Korean dish, which I think should be one of main points in the article – giving a good introduction of the dish.
When I look at other Asian cuisines, they usually use the name as it’s pronounced in their languages. For example, tom yum goong, Bánh mì, famous kung pao, and of course all Indian dishes, a lot of Japanese dishes Nigiri, Temaki, and even all sorts of sashimi(you don’t call it “cut raw fish,” do you?) ingredients such as maguro, tako, etc.
Although there’s usually an explanation of the dish is written in smaller fonts, notating the name in its original language is the least respect to the dish and great attempt to introduce the dish in the right way, just like all the French restaurants do.
In fact, a lot of French restaurants don’t even put explanatory tag lines!
If I saw a Persian dish in this magazine, for example, I would want to know that what I’m cooking is originally from Persia rather than guessing ‘it’s kind of an arabic food.’ And in a case like this, I recall that I usually saw a short line in an article, “This Arabic inspired dish is….” even if it had an Americanized name.
An old Korean fable similar to Robin Hood. This Korean Robin Hood was a stepson of a noble family and was forbidden to call his father father and call his brother brother. The infamous line “That I cannot call my father father, that I cannot call my brother brother…” is now used almost as a proverb for a unjust, unfair situation.
“That I cannot call Galbi Jjim Galbi Jjim…”