Anybody who ever visited Seoul or who has at least visited the old page of www.seoulsearching.com concerning food knows that Korean food is delicious, healthy, low fat, rich in flavors. The ingredients used often have medical properties so food usually helps people stay healthy and get healthy.
Anyone who decides to travel to Seoul or to Korea in general should know that traditionally, Koreans used to have different table settings for each different type of occasion. While any normal meal will have a main dish and several side dishes, special occasions, like weddings, birthdays, a child’s 100th day anniversary and so on and so forth will be celebrated quite formally, in the old style. So, while the everyday table setting can have 3, 5, 7, 9 or even 12 side dishes, a formal dinner on a special occasion will always have one main dish and 12 side dishes. They are not actually called courses, but chops. Korean cuisine is often built around beef, pork, chicken, fish and sea food. Rice and noodles are never missing and spices and seasoning are of utmost importance. Legumes are also held in high esteem and tourists might also want to know that dog meat is considered to be a medical food for its properties. The Anju are side dishes often accompanying alcoholic drinks. Sweets are also a real treat in Korea, their taste is always surprising and delicious and many cakes are made of rice.
When they have a meal together for no special reason, a normal Korean family will have some soup, rice and about 4 side dishes. While the rice and the soup are placed separately for each person sitting at the table, along with the spoon and the chopsticks, from left to right, in this order, the main courses and the side dishes are set in the middle of the table and they all share the food. Sharing is part of the Korean food culture and it brings people together. Of course they eat a lot of rice, but sauces and rice do not count as a separate item on the table. They are meant to accompany the other foods. Chop sticks are used in order to eat, but as a tourist one can often ask for a fork. Do not confuse Chinese table manners with Korean ones: in Korea you are not expected to hold your bowl in your hand.
Some words of advice: do not make noises while eating; do not even make noises with your chop sticks and spoon, do not pick out parts of the food that you do not like and do not poke around the rice in your bowl, which you should not, by the way, hold in your hand. Never use your hands to pick up food and discard bones and other remaining parts discreetly by wrapping them in a napkin.