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KOREAN CUISINE: THE BEST I’VE EXPERIENCED : MUL NAENGMYEON
Refreshing Summer Eats to Stimulate the Appetite

During the one year I have spent in Korea, discovering the taste of Korean cuisine was one of the most inspiring and amazing experiences I have had among many. Korean cuisine is full of contradictions and highly distinctive, with a wide range of ingredients unknown to a foreigner. Thanks to this, even the simplest meal could be an eye-opening experience. Choosing only one favorite dish is not an easy task, but the most memorable one for me is mul naengmyeon (물냉면).
 The first time I tried mul naengmyeon, which became one of my favorite Korean dishes, was on a hot June Sunday afternoon. Summer heat had just begun, but already the weather was making eating hot dishes difficult. I met with my friend to relax after a tiring week and she proposed we eat mul naengmyeon. I had heard about it, but did not have a chance to try it yet so I gladly agreed to eat something new. My first taste of this delicious cold soup told me that I was going to look for opportunities to eat it over and over again.
 Mul naengmyeon, commonly ascribed to the Pyongyang region, is a dish of buckwheat noodles in a beef broth, served with crumbled ice and spiced with vinegar and mustard oil. The dish is usually served with pickled radish, slices of boiled meat, and a boiled egg. Slightly different variations of mul naengmyeon are also available.
 As a cold noodle dish, mul naengmyeon is a perfect choice for a long steamy Korean summer. Its sour yet delicate taste helps one to cope with heavy weather, and as Koreans say, it “helps to save the appetite (입맛을 살린다).” As the heat wave keeps on continuing and everyone loses their appetite during the hottest hours of the day mul naengmyeon is one of the most refreshing and replenishing meals. I often visited my favourite naengmyeon house for a traditional summer Korean dish. If my group of friends were deciding what to eat for lunch, I was the one trying to persuade everyone that mul naengmyeon would be the most pleasant and invigorating option. It was also one of the last things I ate in Korea before coming back to my hometown, so I have plenty of heartwarming memories connected with this cool noodles dish.
 As mul naengmyeon is not well known in Europe, it is difficult to find it even in Korean restaurants. The more I miss living in Seoul and eating Korean cuisine the more sure I am that one day I will try to make naengmyeon myself. Although the authentic taste might be hard or even impossible to recreate, the idea of introducing my Polish friends to my favorite dish is very tempting, even if the results might be not perfect.

Małgorzata Friedrich
2014 KF Korean Language Fellow
(2014/9-2015/8)

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