Budae Jigae (Miltary Base Soup)

Spam stew.

yes, Spam stew.

Many people have written about budae jigae, a very popular dish in Korea.
It’s considered to be the “first” fusion Korean dish, the attempt to Koreanize American Spam.

The legend goes like this:

Spoiled Spam and other “mysterious” meat products from US military bases were thrown out. Koreans living around the bases went dumpster diving to salvage the “spoiled” meat and made a spicy stew out of it. Apparently the spice camouflaged the rancid taste of the meat. It fell out of popularity as Korea became more wealthy but in recent years there has been a huge resurgence. You can find this stew in specialty restaurants and grocery stores (please refer to previous post) all around the country.

You can read more about them here:

Joe McPherson teaches you how to make it!


What’s in it?

Ready to eat budae jigae

Usually spam, hot dog, instant ramen noodles, a spicy kick, and some assortment of vegetables.

Budae Jigae have various names. It is often called GI stew, army camp soup, and piggie soup.

In her book, Cuisine, Colonialism, and Cold War, historian Katarzyna Cwiertka describes the stew as “a legacy of the militarized reality of South Korean life during the decades of the Cold War.” (2012: 117)

The fact that this stew is now available at megastores as a convenience food speaks volumes of its significance in the average Korean’s everyday life.

So I want to ask:

What does it mean to crave a stew that represents  poverty, struggle, and domination?

What is the meaning of eating and celebrating food that was invented during political turmoil?

Is this nostalgia for the past rooted in cherishing the efforts of those who made the best of their circumstances?

If you are interested in learning more about how Spam has gained cultural significance in places that underwent US occupation read:


Email me if you can’t access the article!


The Stuff in Foodstuffs: Food Diary

I attended the 11th summer food school hosted by the European Institute for the Histories and Cultures of Food in Tours, France. We were locked up in an old chateau on top of a hill  pondering, discussing, and debating the materiality of food and foodways.

The days were long and intense but very rewarding as we spent 99% of our waking hours with the group. I managed to take as many photos of the meals we had during the week to leave a record. I missed a few because I was so caught up in conversation or struggling to make conversation in my broken french.

The daily schedule went something like this:

7am wake up

8am breakfast

9am-12:30pm lecture

12:30-2pm lunch

2-5pm lecture or presentations

5-7:30pm lecture or workshops

7:30-9:30 dinner

9:30-11:30 drinks in town

*The only reason why I am divulging these details is to highlight the long hours of sitting in a given day.

Day 1- Welcome Dinner


Day 2- Lunch



Day 2- Dinner


Day 3- Lunch



Day 3- Dinner


Day 4- Lunch



Day 4- Dinner



Day 5- Lunch @ the Chateau Villandry



Day 6 – Lunch


Here are some of my observations from these meals:

1. The French paradox is NOT a myth.

I was certain I would gain weight because I wasn’t getting enough exercise and was eating very rich foods but I’ve managed to maintain my weight! Some of my classmates even have claimed that they lost weight on this “diet”!

2. The use of salt was very minimal in all of these dishes.

I really liked that no one was complaining about the lack of salt and I was surprised to find that all the meals I had in France were  undersalted. Also, I observed that almost no one reached for the salt shaker. Are Europeans less addicted to salt than Americans?

3. Although I did not take any photos of the desserts, the rich ones were only served at lunch while fruit and cheese was served at dinner.


Hi everyone! I’ve been on mute for awhile but I’m back!

Why have I decided to return to writing my blog?

Short answer:

My inspiration was reignited through the Future of Food Studies workshop.

Long answer:

The Food Studies Program at Indiana University hosted a summit of the movers and shakers of the Food Studies world (May 9-11, 2013). This meeting was the grand finale of the full year Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Foundation Seminar on Food Choice, Freedom, and Politics.

I thrive on meeting new people and talking about food and food related issues. So you can imagine how much fun I had at the Future of Food Studies Workshop this week!

We were very fortunate to have a diverse group of people in attendance. Call me a Food Studies nerd but I have to admit that many of these participants were on my top 10 “Must Meet” list.


Rachel Black (Gastronomy Program, Boston University)

Simone Cinnotto (The University of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy)

Jonathon Deutsch (Hospitality, Culinary Arts, and Culinary Science Drexel University)

John T. Edge (Southern Foodways Alliance, University of Mississippi)

Lisa Heldke (Gustavas Adolphus College)

David Kaplan (The Philosophy of Food Project, University of North Texas)

Susan Levine (Food Studies Working Group, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Lucy Long (Center for Food and Culture)

Fabio Parasecoli (Food Studies Program, The New School)

Krishnendu Ray (Food Studies Program, New York University)

Analiese Richard (University of the Pacific)

Peter Scholliers (Vrije Universiteit Brussels)

Amy Trubek (Food Systems, University of Vermont)

Michael Twitty (Culinary Historian)

Harry West, (Food Studies Centre, the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK)

Stephen Wooten (Food Studies Program, University of Oregon)

The major themes that were covered during the workshop were:

1) strategies for undergraduate and graduate training

2) incorporating new fields and managing interdisciplinarity

3) academic and professional training

4) the job market for food studies graduates

What was truly inspirational was the shared enthusiasm about critically engaging with food issues and the willingness to collaborate to ensure a brighter future for food studies.

Are you interested in pursuing a undergraduate or graduate degree in food studies? Would you like to know what your options are and what you can do after?
If so, drop me a line so I can share some of my thoughts with you!