South Korea’s Latest Cultural Export – Temple Food

Temple food is a meal eaten by monks and nuns in temples in South Korea. However, it does not just mean food. Still, it means appreciating the sincerity of everyone who worked hard until the meal was made, considering the entire process from growing the ingredients to making food as practicing the teachings of Buddha and cultivating oneself.

In addition, Temple food is currently being recognized as a new alternative food at a time when the climate crisis intimidates the future of humanity. Temple food is full of wisdom for a sustainable life because it includes ingredients harvested through eco-friendly cultivation, a low-carbon diet that does not use meat, a recipe that utilizes all ingredients, and a way of meal service, called “Barugongyang,” which drinks the water after pouring it into a bowl (“Baru”) and wiping.

For these reasons, the world has a keen interest in Temple food. It is being introduced as a “taste of Korea” around the world. This past summer, Buddhist nun chef Jeong Kwan, who received global attention with the Netflix series “Chef’s Table,” had a Barugongyang workshop and demonstrated Temple food at the fifth “Encounter with Korean Traditional Buddhist Culture” in New York City. She delivered Buddhist values for nature and the environment at the event, drawing favorable reviews from New Yorkers.

Temple food is also popular among those dreaming of becoming chefs. In May this year, the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism signed an agreement with the Le Cordon Bleu and the Korean Cultural Center in France for Korean Temple food education, followed by a special lecture and tasting of Temple food.

Le Cordon Bleu London included Korean Temple food as a regular feature of the Diploma in Plant-Based Culinary Arts in 2021. The special classes on Temple food have been made at many schools, including Nantes Bougainville Cooking School in France and UC Berkeley in United states. The number of people who want to learn Temple food is also growing.

If you plan to visit Korea, you can easily experience and taste Temple food in Seoul. You can just visit the Korean Temple Food Center in Insa-dong, one of the tourist attractions, and take the one-day class “Let’s learn Korean Temple food” in English every Saturday morning.

If it is not easy to find time, it is also good to visit Balwoo Gongyang, the restaurant where you can taste Temple food course meal. This restaurant won Michelin 1 Star for three consecutive years and used seasonal ingredients. If you want to fill your empty body and mind with sincere food in autumn, how about visiting Korea?