Ah, kimchi. Just saying it can make my mouth go into drool mode. It might not seem so delicious to those who’ve never tried it, especially when you read the English translation on most menus as “spicy fermented cabbage,” but this simple dish is a staple in Korean cuisine. My mom ALWAYS includes kimchi with every meal whether we’re eating actual Korean food or going American and enjoying a nice pizza or plate of spaghetti. She even brings out the kimchi at Thanksgiving. It’s that crucial.
So imagine the utter panic that would ensue should there be a kimchi shortage? Koreans dared not think of such a cruel world, but alas, it has happened in the motherland. Torrential rain ruined this year’s Napa cabbage crop and essentially shot the price of kimchi’s core ingredient from $4 a head to $14 a head — a 350 percent increase, according to Time magazine.
Kimchi, which some are now calling keum-chi (the first syllable meaning “gold” in Korean), has become so expensive that the government has begun to ration it and has frozen tariffs on Chinese cabbage in order to help the price stabilize.
I knew Koreans loved food, but I had no idea that missing one side dish could lead to disaster. Good thing our greatest enemy, Kim Jong Il, is also Korean, so he can’t use this kimchi-krptonite of sorts against us.