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Uiryeeumsik: Korean Ceremonial Food광주 의례음식
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승인 2013.04.06  21:09:27
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Uiryeeumsik: Korean Ceremonial Food

By Jo Hye-min, Tribune Reporter



Korean traditional table setting for a wedding ceremony



What food do you eat when you have a special celebration in your life? Nowadays most people eat cake to celebrate and enjoy the days like birthday or their marriage. Have you ever imagined what kind of food our Korean ancestors would eat when they had celebration days? The answer is Uiryeeumsik, our ancestors’ ceremonial food. To know more specific information about the food, the Chonnam Tribune visited Choi Young-ja who is designated as Gwangju’s Important Intangible Cultural Property No.17.

Uiryeeumsik formed from the words ‘uirye’ and ‘eumsik’ is named after tonggwauirye (a rite of passage). In the past, Korean ancestors thought that a person went through a lot of stages from birth until death. The representative reties are baegil (a baby’s 100th day), dol (first birthday), coming-of-age, marriage and hoegab (60th birthday). To celebrate such special events, our ancestors made a table setting for each ceremony. Master Choi mentioned that she started to learn Korean ceremonial food when she was young because there were many ceremonies in her family’s life. It means that uireyeeumsik was a very familiar food in our ancestors’ lives.

According to Master Choi, the reason why the food is well developed especially in the South Jeolla Region is because the region has a lot of rice paddies people can get many kinds of crops and also there are mountains and seas in the region. Therefore, the food’s ingredients are very fancy and various and they can set a table with diverse food. When one family has a big party, the amount of food is very huge so it can be a small town’s party because the sharing spirit of Korean ancestors. Furthermore, in the past many bureaucrats were exiled to Jeolla Region. And the exiled man spread royal court food. It is the second reason that Namdo’s ceremonial food is so beautiful and fancy.

Among the foods, the most splendid is a food for pyebaek, traditional ceremony to pay respect to the groom’s family by the newly-wedded couple right after their wedding. It has various kinds of food such as goim (a cylinder shape food pile) and eohwa (a flower of dried octopus or squid) and chicken. Master Choi said, “Making the food is a really hard work. When I make it, I often stay up all night. In particular a dish of food pile, it takes more than 15days to complete. There are many types of food pile made of different ingredients such as jujube, yagwa (a traditional cookie) and dasik (a traditional pattern-pressed candy). Each ingredient has its own meaning. Jujube means a newly- wedded couple’s children and chestnut does the couple will respect their ancestors. There are many different methods to pile foods. In the case of the dish of piled up jujubes, the inside of it is composed of chestnuts and the line of jujube covers the outside of it. The dish of piled up chestnut or ginkgo is pasted with sticky rice and hanji (Korean traditional paper). It can be stacked after previous floors of goim are completely dry. So it requires much effort and time. Eohwa is made of dried fish fillet, squid or octopus. Cutting them into a flower shape it can be a good decoration. Also chickens decorate the traditional wedding ceremony food. The chickens are not common cooked chickens that are covered in paper, which is a chicken shape. The fancy color of paper makes chickens more beautiful and delicious. These two things show that pyebaek foods not only considered taste, but also decoration.

Nowadays most people want convenient things so they do not attend all ceremonies in traditional style. But some ceremonies including the first and 60th birthdays and wedding are still big events to Korean people. Going through those events, we would better understand our ancestors’ mind and pay attention to Korean traditional food.

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