Tuesday 5 September 2023

Book Review: Korean Cuisine by Michael J. Pettid (History/Food)

Title: Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History
Author: Michael J. Pettid
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 224
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: History / Food
Source: Read on Scribd

The spicy tang of kimchi, the richness of Korean barbecue, the hearty flavors of bibimbap: Korean cuisine is savored the world over for its diversity of ingredients and flavors. Michael Pettid offers here a lushly illustrated historical account of Korean food and its intricate relationship with the nation’s culture.

Over the last twelve centuries, Korean food dishes and their complex preparations have evolved along with the larger cultural and political upheaval experienced by the nation. Pettid charts this historical development of the cuisine, exploring the ways that regional distinctions and historical transformations played out in the Korean diet—including the effects of wartime food shortages and preparation techniques. Underlying all these dishes are complicated philosophical and aesthetic considerations, and Pettid delves into their impact on everything from the rituals associated with group meals or drinks with friends to the strict rules governing combinations of dishes and ingredients according to temperature, texture, spices, color, and consistency.

Featuring a batch of mouthwatering recipes and over a hundred vivid photographs of a striking array of dishes,
Korean Cuisine is an incisive and engaging investigation into the relationship between Korean culture and food that will spice up the bookshelves of foodies and scholars alike.


Korean Cuisine was a comprehensive overview of the history of Korean food cultivation and preparation. Clearly well researched, it covered a wide range of topics including ritual foods and royal banquets, with plenty of photographs throughout the pages showing different dishes. For the readers who are also keen cooks, the author even included a few recipes to try out at the back. The only downside to this book was the use of the annoying, older romanisation system for the Korean terms, but other than the irritation that gave me, I found this book an interesting and informative read. I am giving it four stars.

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