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How can Korean cuisine promote health and longevity with the concept of "medicine and food have the same source?

Amid busy daily life, I find it truly difficult to eat a balanced diet at every meal. In our household, mornings start at 5 o'clock, and lunches are scattered and eaten quickly, so we try to have a proper dinner together at least. We gather around the dining table.

When the table is colourful, it cheers us up, and I wonder if it's just our family that feels healthier.

"Today, how many types of vegetables are on the table?"

"Today, there are 11 types!"

"What colours are there? How many different colours are there?"

"Well, we've got all five flavours and colours covered!"

While having such conversations, I am imparting Korean food culture and nutrition insights to Sophie.

Stir-fried colorful vegetables and meat
Stir-fried colorful vegetables and meat

In Korea, the concept of "medicine and food have the same source," a concept originating from China, is deeply rooted. It means "Food is like medicine. Let's prevent and cure diseases and maintain health through food!" This philosophy's core in Korean cuisine is the importance of "five tastes and colours." Through the meticulous arrangement of ingredients – green, red, yellow, white, and black – and the harmonization of tastes – sourness, bitterness, Sweetness, spiciness, and Sltiness – we honour this principle, fostering both health and culinary delight.

During the Joseon Dynasty, there were court cuisines such as "GUjeolpan," which is still enjoyed today as a traditional dish. It consists of various ingredients arranged in a compartmentalized octagonal dish, each wrapped in a crepe-like dough and eaten. This dish embodies the spirit of hospitality, delighting guests with a variety of colours and flavours.

Gujeolpan Korean Royal Cuisine

Even in the humble origins of household fare like "Bibimbap," we find a homage to the principle of incorporating the five flavours and colours into a single dish. In Korea's beloved "Kimchi," with its diverse ingredients and complex flavours, we witness a culinary embodiment of this holistic approach to nourishment.

In the act of mindful eating, we recognize that food not only sustains us physically but also shapes us on a deeper level.

In the end, making a balanced meal isn't as hard as it sounds. When we fill our plates with lots of different colours and flavours, we not only give our bodies what they need but also enjoy the diverse food traditions we have. Even if we can't always eat perfectly healthy, let's try to be mindful when we eat, cherishing the history of our food.

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