Food Stuff to Bring with you to Korea
It is not necessary to bring any food with you outside minor provisions.
Most teachers are able to find their favorite spices, chocolate, coffee, tea, cheese etc. in Korea. Cheese is limited. No old cheddar, but it’s adequate. If you’re going to a smaller city or a rural area your access to imports will be limited.
Here is a list of suggestions:
- Western Cooking Spices – Koreans primarily spice their foods with garlic, pepper and salt. If you plan on doing some western style cooking you may want to bring western cooking spices with you- oregano, thyme, basil, tarragon- whatever puts lead in your pencil. A word to the wise- bring them in their original packaging unopened with clearly marked labels- you could find yourself spending several hours explaining to a surly airport security guard that your suspicious looking baggie of dried herbs is for a fettuccine bonanza. (“No, really officer, taste it” Same goes for bringing unmarked baggies of Vitamin C.
- Coffee – Coffee in Korea is getting much better in recent years. The popularity of Starbucks and various competitors ensures that most coffee drinkers will be satisfied. For the more discerning coffee drinker, boutique shops roasting their own beans and preparing specialty coffees are popping up all over. You might have to ask around as they can be hidden in back alleys.
- Honey – Honey is available in Korea but is expensive- it also makes great gifts when visiting Korean households. Be sure to bag it and make sure it isn’t going to explode and ruin things.
- Oatmeal and other hot breakfast cereals – For those mornings when you don’t feel like rice and fish soup for breakfast, although cold cereals are available in Korea.
- Dried soup mixes – A nice comfort food to have when you are feeling sick, blue or hung over. You can get curry mixer and cream of mushroom and cream of corn but chicken noodle and French onion soup are not easily found.
- Cheeses – Korean stores are started to offer more than just processed cheese- the equivalent of Velveeta, cheese in any form is expensive and hard to find. In the import sections of some department stores you may come across the occasional lonely block of cheddar, but it will cost the same as a mid-sized sedan.
- Mexican style foods – largely unavailable in Korea- and that which is available isn’t worth mentioning. (The last Mexican restaurant visited by the resident Footprints food critic featured pickled radishes and kimchee.)
- Dried fruit and nuts – Dried cranberries and raisins are available, and peanuts are available everywhere. Other nuts and dried fruits – walnuts, brazil nuts, etc can be next to impossible to find.
- Baking supplies – Don’t expect your apartment to have an oven. However, if you are lucky enough to have access to an oven and you plan on doing some baking bring baking supplies with you, i.e. baking powder, cream of tartar, etc.