Thursday, October 11, 2018

[Food] Janchiguksu (잔치국수, Korean banquet noodle)


[Food] Janchiguksu (잔치국수, Korean banquet noodle)

A Korean traditional wedding

Janchiguksu (잔치국수, Korean banquet noodle)

She wasn't a very special or beautiful girl, she was a very...very ordinary, pretty Korean girl that you see in class. I remember that she had long, slightly curly and dark brown hair with a milky and pale complexion. She was one of the taller people among her classmates. Her big round eyes and cherry-like lips were very attractive to Korean boys like me.

Unlike myself, she didn't like the school where we went. Actually she didn't like to study most subjects i  the curriculum. We had many of the same classes such as chemistry, Korean literature, English literature, physics, physical education, mathematics and so on...I know that she was good at liberal arts, though I, on the other hand, was good at natural sciences.

I had had a major crush on her since I first met her (love at first sight, like other Korean teenagers would have on her), and I never thought she would have the same for me. I couldn't think that this would happen to me because she and I were such different people with different personalities. However, these differences seemed so complimentary.

One Christmas Eve evening, I asked her to be my partner for the Christmas party at school and (surprisingly) she said 'yes', while I was thinking she would surely reject me. From then on, we were officially proclaimed the couple of the school and people said 'You two are a perfect match'.

However, we were too young to last long enough for 'happily ever after'. Radical adolescent emotions and frequent quarrels didn't hold our relationship.

A typical Korean couple

Now, she is holding another man's hand at her wedding on a huge white screen that was set up in a wedding banquet hall. Her groom was one of my alumni who is a successful businessman of a global enterprise.

She sent wedding invitations to all of her alumni from school. When I received her invitation, I was totally stunned and spaced out for several minutes. I couldn't figure out how she had found out my address (maybe Jacky - the president of the alumni association - had told her). I thought that I was absolutely over her, but the invitation recalled unwanted memories.

I came to the wedding with old classmates but didn't stay for the wedding hall. I came down a little early to the banquet hall because I couldn't bear seeing her in a wedding dress with a happy face while I was still single without a partner (Yes, I'm proud to be narrow-minded) but an extra large screen showing the whole wedding ceremony was set up on the wall of the banquet hall as if saying to me 'Ta-dah! I'm here for you'.

A happy modern wedding
Traditional Korean wedding costumes

This whole wedding stressed me out to the ends of the earth. I really wanted to evaporate into the air...and get out of this place. However, the beautiful taste of Janchiguksu took hold of me. Traditionally, Koreans had served their visitors Janchiguksu (잔치국수, Korean banquet noodle) and sweet rice cakes on days of joyful celebration such as a wedding or any party because long strings of a noodle symbolizes 'long healthy life'.

Janchiguksu (잔치국수, Korean banquet noodle)

Sweet rice cake balls (sweet red bean paste in them)

Koreans believe in the oriental five elements theory, and each topping on the noodle symbolizes the color of this theory. Blue (Green zucchini), black (Seaweed or soy-sauced minced beef), red (carrot), white (the white of an egg) and yellow (the yolk of an egg) which all wish the host and visitors a healthy life. Koreans had been eating noodles for a long time and noodles weren't a cheap dish because there wasn't much wheat in the Korean peninsula. So Koreans usually ate noodles on a special day like a wedding and a party for village elders. This is why the noodle was named 'Janchiguksu (잔치국수, Korean banquet noodle)' - 'Janchi' meaning 'party' and 'guksu' meaning 'noodle' in Korean. Today, a bag of flour or noodles is cheap in Korea :)

A typical thin Korean noodle

Thin Korean noodles based on the colors of the five elements
Koreans usually use thin, long noodles to cook Janchiguksu, and usually use anchovy stock. Then the below ingredients...such as....

Eggs are roasted on a pan then chopped into strings

Korean zucchini

Mined meat with soy-sauce

Chopped carrots
Prepared toppings for Janchiguksu
And they usually add some more toppings or a sauce...

Soy-sauce with chopped green onion and chilis

Red chili powder and sesame grind

Koreans love to eat a noodle with kimchi too!

There are many more dishes than just noodle as, these days, the host of a wedding ceremony usually serves a buffet, but enjoy Janchiguksu and rice cakes too much. My mind is saying 'Eat quickly, go home' but my stomach is saying 'Eat, eat, eat, eat....'.

A typical, simple home-made Janchiguksu

Noodles with kimchi, and sweet and spicy sauce
I'm currently eating my 3rd Janchiguksu with a 2nd rice cake dish while thinking to myself that I'm an utterly poor and miserable pig but, honestly, this noodle tastes so good.

Finally, a pastor at the ceremony finished his sermon with a blessing for the wedding couple and allowed the couple to kiss. Well...I think I'd better go now before they come to the banquet hall and thank their visitors for coming to their wedding.

I don't think that I can see their faces with a smile.

It is tradition for the married couple to thank every visitor for coming to the banquet

I hope you live happily ever after...

Well, I'd better forget the past and find a fiancée quickly who will thank the wedding visitors with me...

Bon appétit!

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