Old (Abandoned?) Kimchi Pots (May 2000).
(Please read this before you copy our photos or text.)

The pots on the flat roof in this picture are traditional kimchi fermentation pots. Kimchi just about qualifies as a symbol of Korea. Unless Koreans are at the local McDonalds, most of them eat it with pretty much every meal - yes, even breakfast.

Kimchi, in case you haven't yet made its acquaintance, is usually spicy-hot and has the kind of taste and odor that you either love or hate, though some folks who have the latter reaction eventually come round to the former. It's fermented like sauerkraut, but doesn't taste anything like it.

In the old days, every family made their own kimchi every autumn, stuffing it into huge pots like the ones in the photo. The pots were buried to keep the temperature just right for fermentation. These days more and more Koreans are too busy to make their own kimchi, so they buy it at the supermarket. The pots sit empty, a symbol of a tradition drying up.

Some Koreans, particularly ajomma (middle aged and older women) do still make their own kimch. For those so inclined, the latest hot gadget is the dedicated kimchi refrigerator. In 2002, these specialized appliances actually outsold ordinary refrigerators in Korea. Friends of ours have one. They parked it in the living room. That might be because they were short of room in the kitchen, or it might be that guests notice it better that way. ;-)

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