American actress Brooke Shields is the latest in a line of American celebrities to show an interest in the health benefits of Korean food. The Blue Lagoon (1980) starlet was seen shopping for gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and other ingredients at a Korean market in New York on May 24, according to the latest issue of Life & Style Weekly, the popular U.S. magazine.
Shields seems to have fully recovered from the eating disorders that caused much controversy earlier in her career. She attracted other shoppers' attention last month by purchasing cellophane noodles, vegetables, meat and gochujang -- ingredients that are used to make both japchae (a mixed dish of boiled bean threads, stir-fried vegetables and shredded meat) and bibimbap.
She told the magazine that she became fond of Korean food after eating bibimbap for the first time, and subsequently decided to learn how to cook Korean dishes for herself. Shields picked out gochujang as her favorite ingredient because of the way it fuses hot, sweet and sour tastes.
Other American actresses and chefs have also been jumping on the Korean food bandwagon recently.
Bethenny Frankel, the actress and natural foods chef, was pictured eating bibimbap and pajeon (Welsh-onion pancake) at a New York restaurant in May. This became a hot topic of conversation after the photo ran in U.S. Weekly.
Meanwhile, "Gossip Girl" star Kelly Rutherford was heard singing the praises of a bulgogi cucumber kimchi burger after she visited a Korean food truck near Bryant Park, also in The Big Apple. The truck was provided by local Korean restaurant owners working with the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Eating Korean food once or twice a week has emerged as a new trend among New Yorkers, according to Park Soon-yun, an official at the food industry promotion division of the Food Ministry.
"We are planning to generate more interest in our national cuisine by cooperating with local Korean restaurants and holding various tasting events," he said.