In an effort to promote a global kimchi culture, scientists in South Korea are attempting to eliminate the food’s relatively uninviting smell — which Koreans themselves carefully contain so fridges won’t stink.
Researchers at the World Institute of Kimchi, however, are facing a challenging task. Among them is Lee Mi-ae, who told The Washington Post:
“We’re trying to engineer the smell out of kimchi. But it’s difficult because the smell is linked to the flavor of the kimchi.”
The institute, located in Gwangju City’s Kimchi Town, holds an annual World Kimchi Festival every November. It is during this cold weather that many Koreans make kimchi, a UNESCO-recognized tradition known as “kimjang.”
Koreans, in general, have long claimed of the healthy wonders that kimchi has on the body, including better digestion, detoxification and even elimination of virtually any disease on the face of the planet.
It’s not surprising to learn that an average South Korean consumes 57 pounds of kimchi every year, according to the institute.
Despite its supposed benefits, kimchi is a difficult product to sell, and Koreans know this for a fact. It may have appeared in countless commercials, K-Dramas and everywhere in between, but one thing does not change, unfortunately.
Ha Jae-ho, head of the institute, said:
“Most Western people don’t like the smell of kimchi because we use of lot of garlic and ginger, and that produces a lot of sulfur compounds.”
With these in mind, scientists at the institute are apparently testing a two-fold approach to make kimchi more marketable: increase its good bacteria while decreasing its odor. Sounds like the best idea, after all.
Whether or not they succeed remains to be answered, but whatever kimchi evolves into, we hope more people will enjoy it — even vegetarians who learned that it’s not all veggies.
Have you tried any variety of kimchi? Let us know!