Temple food in korea

The dietary culture of the Buddhist faith has always had an important place within Korea. ‘Temple food’ has been part of the nation’s culinary history since the first century A.D. and is still hugely influential. The term refers to the food that is eaten daily at Buddhist places of worship and is vegan in accordance with the doctrine that all life is sacred. As well as being eaten at temples, it is also available at numerous restaurants and food spots, meaning that it is accessible to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. There are no artificial seasonings included in the food and scallion, garlic, wild rocambole and onions are avoided at all costs, as their heat is believed to distract people from effective meditation. The main aim of the cuisine is to emphasize the simple yet sophisticated flavours of natural ingredients, creating a subtle yet mouth-watering treat for the diners.

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Medicinal Properties

The types of temple foods that are available usually change on a seasonal basis but there are some dishes that you can always expect to be on offer. These include vegetable porridge, rice cakes, traditional deep-fried cookies created from flour, grain and honey and ‘yeongyip bap’, which consists of assorted nuts and steamed rice covered in lotus leaves. The benefit of eating foods made up entirely of natural ingredients is that they do not contain any of the processed substances that are found in western cuisine. Many of the ingredients are also said to have medicinal properties. Chrysanthemum, which is eaten with half-moon shaped rice cakes and a layer of pine needles, is a source of vitamin B1 and amino acids and is said to be good for headaches, stomachache and hypertension. Rowan, which is present in tea served with some temple food, is good for asthma, warding off  vitamin dificiency and curing coughs.

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Where to Sample It

Traditionally, almost all of the ingredients included in temple foods are grown close the temple, meaning that they are fresh. Buddhists view the act of eating to be a form of prayer. Temple foods emphasize a concern for sustainability and healthy eating and emphasize an appreciation of nature. The number of urban restaurants that offer this form of food is growing, meaning that visitors to the country can consume it in a non-religious environment.

Learn How to Cook It

Temple food has enjoyed such a growth in popularity in recent years that there are now a wealth of classes on offer that teach participants how to took it. Teaching how to make this food is not just a matter of instructing people on practical issues; there is also ancient wisdom that comes with it. Temple food is said to cleanse the spirit as well as the body. Its rapid transition from the temple to kitchens and restaurants means that this knowledge is spreading from person to person, bringing about a surge in culinary enlightenment. It is now the domain of housewives as well as priests and is entering the mainstream.

Subtle Yet Tasty

Some might argue that the fact that temple foods are becoming popular outside of religious buildings means that they are moving away from their roots. However others believe that this will result in Buddhist principles such as respect for life and the need to maintain a healthy mind and body extending out of places of worship and into society as a whole. Whatever your viewpoint, one thing is for certain: this food is both healthy and delicious without relying too heavily on spices and seasonings and becoming overbearing. It is subtle yet tasty and allows visitors to sample a tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years whilst at the same time eating food that has been grown locally, meaning that it is ecologically sound.

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