The Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods, will soon include three traditional Korean foods, bringing the total to eight. It is compiled by Slow Food International, a non-profit organization headquartered in Italy that seeks to encourage a return to leisurely cooking and local ingredients.
Five of the Korean dishes were already included on the list in August. All are now being exhibited at a "slow food" festival in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province that ends Sunday.
The Ark of Taste currently has 1,268 foods from 76 countries on the list, including Andasibe red rice from Madagascar, Huehuetenango highland coffee from Guatemala, and Gargano Podolico Caciocavallo from Italy.
The eight Korean foods on the list are as follows:
◆ Jayeom Salt
Before sun-dried salt was produced here, salt was traditionally made by boiling the seawater in cauldrons. Less salty and bitter than bay or refined salt, jayeom salt has fine white particles. Production stopped in the 1950s before recently being resumed in Taean, South Chungcheong Province and Gochang, North Jeolla Province.
◆ Doncha Tea
Tea leaves indigenous to southern parts like Jangheung in South Jeolla Province are collected in May to make balls by steaming and pulverizing them. Then they are laid down to mature for the next six months to up to 20 years. To be consumed as tea, the leaves are first lightly roasted and then boiled. They were used as an antidote or antifebrile as well as to prevent constipation.
◆ Dark Cow
The meat of the dark cow from Jeju is rich in oleic acid, one of the main components of beef flavor. As demand for Jeju beef rises due to the savory taste, the provincial government is making efforts to preserve and increase the population, and there are now around 1,500 of them.
◆ Green Soybean Paste and Sauce
This soybean paste and sauce is made from green soybeans that grow only in the southern resort island of Jeju. When boiled, the glutinous beans taste sweeter than other beans.
◆ Anjeunbaengi Wheat
This dwarf wheat grows to only between 50-80 cm. Since 1984 when the government stopped buying wheat to stabilize prices, the nation saw a plunge in wheat production, leading to the endangerment of the dwarf wheat. It is barely kept in existence in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province before consumption recently increased because it is now recognized as the best option for traditional noodle dishes.
◆ Ogye Chicken
This chicken is completely black from bones to feathers. It is hard to breed due to it unruly character. Only one farm in Yeonsan, South Chungcheong Province is continuing the tradition.
◆ Chikso Cattle
Once misunderstood as a crossbreed between premium Korean beef cattle and the milk cow, this cattle with yellow and black stripes was long forgotten until the Ulleng Island government started trying to increase the population again.
◆ Hanson's Lily
These lilies grow on the gentle slopes of lush forest in Ulleung Island. Their young sprouts used to be served as side dishes, and the local government is now seeking to develop new recipes that use the plant as an ingredient for foods like bibimbap (rice with assorted vegetables).