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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

US rice doesn't taste good

Ohmynews tells ("Imported rice, won't eat even if cheap) that Korean housewives have found the import rice from the United States to be not tasty (or actually 7 out of 10; three didn't find much difference). I have no reason to doubt their judgement: people have developed a taste for a certain variety of rice (Japonica!), added with the cultural and political meanings of rice and Korean rice.

In one sense the piece of text ends up showing that opening the rice market won't be that dangerous after all: Korean rice will prevail because customers prefer its taste over the imported one. The writer doesn't expect that Korean men would contribute to the domestic choices of Korean households, but this is not the time for gender equality, right?
But more than that [product quality], there is one thing, and that is the minds of the housewives of Republic of Korea.
The pure (sobakhan) mind of the housewife of Republic of Korea, who wants to feed her parents, husband, and children with steamed rice made of the glistening (yunggi hûrûnûn) good-quality rice even if it's expensive.
And poor people can fill their stomachs with ramyon. And Koreans have been eating less and less rice even without imported varieties; what's it nowadays, two bowla a day or even less, while it was three bowls in the 1970s when rice finally was abundantly available.

(The price of the US rice that the writer used in her test was 17000 won for 10 kilos on the 8th, 15 000 W on the 15th, which makes it 2000W cheaper than the Korean stuff.)

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Comments to note "US rice doesn't taste good" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous Anonymous> said on 18.5.06 : 

But what will the good ajuma think of basmati? What of all the wonderful Indian, Thai and other rices? If she was just given Uncle Ben's, of course she would not be happy with it. I will be interested what happens to Korean tastes when a variety of high-quality, decent-priced rice becomes available over time.

- Haisan

<Blogger Antti Leppänen> said on 18.5.06 : 

The imported US rice that the women ate, California Calrose, is of the same Japonica variety that's being produced in Korea, so the taste cannot be that different, but I guess it's possible that it's big enough to make a difference. But for how long.

<Blogger dogbert> said on 22.5.06 : 

And of course, that same California-grown Japonica is used at innumerable Koreatown restaurants with nary a complaint.

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