#Jennifer Park: California State University Long Beach /Business Administration
#Natalia Jimenez: California State University Los Angeles /Liberal Studies
○Tell us why you applied for YAFF (Young Agri-Food Fellowship).
Jennifer Park: I thought it would be an enjoyable experience to hear and see the community’s responses to Korean food products. Whether or not those responses are positive, I thought this experience would provide me with an invaluable insight into the community’s thoughts about Korean food products.
Natalia Jimenez: My reasons to join were to learn more about various Korean foods and to support raising awareness about the Korean culture. Also, since I plan to teach in Korea, this is a perfect opportunity to participate in Korea-related events.
○What has been the most memorable part of your participation in YAFF and why?
J: The most memorable incident was when a lady, possibly in her mid-40s, stopped by the 2016 K-Food Fair Los Angeles in Westfield Santa Anita Mall. She seemed very interested in a crunchy rice snack but had a somewhat questioning look on her face. But it was soon replaced with a delighted face; she seemed to be very fond of the snack and remained close by until the end of the fair.
N: I have made quite a lot of memories: sharing Korean food with students on campus, tasting foods presented at the fair, and, of course, interacting with all the people who participated in the event.
○What are some Korean food products and Korean dishes that are getting positive responses these days?
J: The Korean food product getting an immense amount of positive exposure lately seems to be the brand of spicy noodles called Buldak-bokkeum-myeon, which is going viral on the Internet. If you search “fire noodle challenge” on YouTube, you can find a great number of uploaded videos where people record themselves attempting to consume a bowl of insanely spicy instant noodles.
N: Recently, I heard many people talk about Korean barbeque. Other dishes that are getting good reviews are bulgogi, kimchi, and japchae as well as rice cakes and shaved ice desserts.
○What do you think is good about Korean cuisine?
J: For most Americans, it is a challenge to handle foods that are served in a way different from what they are familiar with. Koreans use a variety of cooking methods such as fermenting, boiling, seasoning, and pickling. Prepared in so many different ways, Korean dishes offer a new and different taste for Americans to experience.
N: I agree that the Korean dishes have a different flavor as opposed to other foods I have previously tried. Also, the way the food is presented is different. Above all, I love how Korean dishes can be shared with other people, which lets us see all together how great the flavor is and how appealing it is.
○Which aspects of Korean dishes and food products do you think Americans may like the most?
J: A growing number of Americans are paying attention to natural, organic, and vegetarian food products. With this in mind, I think Americans will benefit from the Koreans’ focus on raw ingredients that are free from harmful chemicals. They can also consume more nutrients. Furthermore, Korean snacks using sweet potatoes and grains―ingredients Americans are not accustomed to having as a snack―are simple, convenient, and a healthier alternative to the snacks we are used to.
N: I believe Americans like the fact that you can cook the food yourself when you have Korean barbeque. Even when you order a side dish, it does not come on an individual plate but on a larger plate that can be shared with others. Since there are also many things about Korean barbeque that are similar to American barbeque, Americans may be attracted by those similarities first and from there, they can taste other Korean dishes and food products and come to like them.
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