검색
Contact us | KOREAN

NEWSLETTER

00707012
2011.1
background left image
background right image
background handphone image
background pen image
KOREAN

Touched by the Delicacy of Korean Cuisine Ruth and Rafael Sirkis of Al Sirkis, Leading Publisher of Israeli Cookbooks <br />
 Ruth Sirkis and Rafael Sirkis, president and chairman of the board of directors of Al Sirkis, Israel’s foremost publisher of cookbooks, visited Korea to personally experience the cuisine of Korea and to promote food culture exchange between the two countries.


What are your impressions of Korea?

A This is our third visit to Korea. But, since it was 15 years ago when we were here the last time, we could see such remarkable changes, like the airport. For Middle Easterners like us, Korea is often seen as a faraway country in the Far East. However, thanks to such global brands as Samsung and LG, which are widely known among consumers in Israel, we have an image of Korea as a highly advanced industrial country. Because of these brands, we think of Korea in terms of first-class products and efficiency.

Rafael SirkisAs a leading publisher of cookbooks, what aspects of food are the most significant to you?

A To begin with, you have to use fresh and excellent ingredients. It is also important for the cook to know the exact details of the recipe. However, what’s more significant than anything else is the attitude of the person who prepares the food. One of our most successful books is titled, “Cooking with Love.” As the title indicates, I believe the attitude of the cook is the most important ingredient in food. For example, couscous is a popular North African dish. The key ingredient in couscous, which is frequently eaten in North Africa like rice in Korea, is the “heart of a mother.”
You can never feel the heart from a dish if it is made half-heartedly, no matter how good the ingredients are. The specific taste, such as being spicy or salty, doesn’t matter much if the food has been prepared with all your heart and soul. We could feel such warm-heartedness from the Korean court cuisine we tasted yesterday. We could feel the heart of the people who prepared the food so delicately and deeply cared about the garnish of each dish. When we thought of how much devotion went into the preparation of the dishes, we couldn’t stop admiring the food.

Among the Korean dishes that you have tried, what especially appealed to your palates?

A We tasted various foods and had a special impression from each one. However, personally, we’d like to say that the most impressive meal we had in Korea was at a charcoal barbeque restaurant near our hotel. While looking around the area, we just stepped into the restaurant that was crowded with people. It was an ordinary Korean restaurant with no English-speaking staff or English menu, but the staff workers were very hospitable. Even before we asked, our table was filled with various side dishes and we especially liked the grilled pork ribs. The taste of marinated pork ribs, which was not so spicy and appropriately sweet, was really fantastic. Just as other Korean diners did, we ate the rib meat wrapped in lettuce leaves. We were also impressed by the meticulousness of the restaurant workers who changed our grill whenever necessary. The food we had there will remain as a great joy in our memory because we could feel the sincere heart and dedication of those who prepared the dishes.

Ruth and Rafael Sirkis of Al Sirkis, Leading Publisher of Israeli CookbooksWhat kinds of Korean cuisine do you think Israelis might like and what Israeli foods might appeal to Koreans?

A I’m sure that the Korean charcoal barbeque, which I just mentioned, will be very well received by Israelis. But considering that Israelis mostly start their meals with large servings of bread, like pita, I think you will need to come up with several localization strategies in regard to the menus and tastes of certain side dishes other than the main course. As for Koreans, I would recommend the street foods of Israel, such as hummus and falafel, made of chickpeas and tahina with sesame paste. Israeli people eat them wrapped in pita while walking on the street. These street foods, which contain enough major nutrients for a meal, including protein, fat and carbohydrates, are the driving force of the Israeli people, who have overcome all the bitter twists of life. As I understand, there are several restaurants serving these foods in Manhattan, and I heard they are very popular among Americans.

Have you found similarities between the foods of Korea and Israel?

A There is a close similarity between Israeli chicken soup and the Korean chicken soup samgyetang, to such an extent that I thought about my mother while eating it. Israel and Korea have various similarities in cooking methods and ingredients. A good example is eggplant, which is one of the most popular food ingredients in the Mediterranean area. In Israel, there are about 20 different kinds of dishes made with eggplant and I think they will go well with Korea’s traditional sauces.

Based on your professional experience, what are your thoughts about Korea’s efforts to globalize Korean cuisine?

A About the globalization of Korean cuisine, I would like to point out that knowing and seeing a food is completely different from visiting its birthplace and tasting it in person. Therefore, more efforts need to be made to expose Korean dishes to diverse mass media, including books, as often as possible, and to increase the opportunity for foreigners to taste them firsthand, through food shows and parties, and to create an atmosphere so that Korean restaurants can take root in foreign countries.
The Korean Embassy in Israel introduces Korean food through various receptions, and I think this is a good effort, too. Authors like me are writing more stories about Korean foods. When these efforts are accumulated, more and more Israelis will take an interest in Korean food. Support should also be provided to related industries, such as wholesale dealers of Korean food ingredients and cooking devices, which can be of help for those who plan to open a Korean restaurant.

Text byKim Bo-ram, Photos by Kim Hyun-min

copyright 2011 한국국제교류재단 ALL Rights Reserved | 137-072 서울특별시 서초구 남부순환로 2558 외교센터빌딩 10층 | 02-2046-8500 | newsletter@kf.or.kr