Wednesday, October 6, 2010

South Korea facing kimchi crisis.

Thanks Jen! From the LA Times:
Freakish fall weather has resulted in a national kimchi crisis, causing South Korean consumers to clutch at their purses, hearts and stomachs as they seek to deal with a shortage of the oblong-shaped cabbage used to make the ubiquitous spicy dish.

With heavy September rains ruining much of the Napa, or Chinese, cabbage crop, prices have jumped fourfold to more than $10 a head.

In response, the federal government last week announced a temporary reduction in tariffs on Chinese-imported cabbage and radishes in a plan to rush an additional 100 tons of the staples into stores this month.

And on Monday, the Seoul city government began a kimchi bailout program, in which it is absorbing 30% of the cost of about 300,000 heads of cabbage it has purchased from rural farmers so it can be sold for less to consumers.

Depriving Koreans of their kimchi, many say, is like forcing Italians to forgo pasta or taking all the tea from China. The dish of fermented cabbage, radish and chile paste has such iconic status here that there is a museum dedicated to kimchi in Seoul, and portions of it were blasted into space with the country's first astronaut in 2008.