This post is inspired by an article written by Christine Kwon and published in Korea Magazine. However, all photos are taken by me in my last trip to South Korea, Ansan city.
As the Modern nomadic lifestyle becomes commonplace, it’s easy to feel nostalgic for home. Sometimes all it takes is a familiar aroma or flavor to awaken memories, uplifting or bittersweet, of bygone days and places.
In Korean, home cooking is “Jipbap”, literally “Home Rice”. In Korean language Jip (집) means home and Bap (밥) means rice or meal.
The expression Jipbap appears frequently in restaurant names, a hint for the hungry passerby as to what will be served inside: Various side dishes, some soup and, naturally, a steaming bowl of rice, one of the countless possible iterations of Korean home cooking. But still satisfying of this homemade foods are different from “Omma Sonmat”. Omma (엄마) means mother, Son (손) means hand and Mat (맛) means taste, so the whole sentence of Omma Sonmat means mother’s cooked taste.
In the popular ballad “Jipbap”, released in 2014, singer Kim Bum-Soo (김범수) describes coming home to a quite house after a long workday, weighed down by woes and worries. “Jipbap”, he repeats in the chorus, crying out for the home and family it brings to mind.
With its connotations of familial warmth, care and constancy, Jipbap in Korean is not simply a meal but also a source of emotional nourishment and strength.
I recommend all of you to taste Korean Jipbap in some local restaurants during your travel to Korea. It completely gives you a feeling of local Korean families homemade meals. I have tried mine once when I traveled to Ansan city for a day. It was a new window of Korean culture which it opened to me!
Don’t forget to leave me a comment about your own experience of Jipbap.