Kimchi's heroic exploits
I have to admit that I am a bit obsessed by the Korean obsession with health food fads. Whereas in the UK the government tries somewhat desperately to get everyone to eat five small bits of vegetation every day and Jamie 'the pukka muppet' Oliver becomes a hero for teaching schoolkids how to tell the difference between a leek and a kiwi fruit, in Korea it seems that every kind of food is scrutinised for its possible efficacy in fighting cancer and just about every other disease known to man. In the ongoing mission to prove that the Korean diet is the healthiest in the world, the findings of intrepid food scientists are regularly reported in the Korean press, often leading to a major shortage of whatever it is they are extolling the virtues of this time round.
In yesterday's Korea Times it was announced that kimchi (Korean fermented chili and cabbage) is "helpful in fighting bird flu". Before anyone starts to panic I think that a kimchi shortage is rather unlikely and the Korean government almost certainly has a backup 'kimchi mountain' somewhere in the country for just such occasions.
Apparently though, kimchi even has its own species of bacteria named Leuconostoc Kimchii, and someone has actually been working on its genome - true dedication to kimchi. Another interesting fact: kimchi is also effective against Newcastle disease. Not sure what this is but it sounds nasty, and possibly involves wandering around drunk on a Saturday night in December wearing only a T-shirt.
Perhaps I should begin to collect these food fad stories from the Korean press for posterity or some sort of pseudo-anthropological research project. On second thoughts, perhaps I won't.