Recently, many HUFSans became a little bit sad due to a local change. “Fish Gimbap,” a gimbap restaurant located near the HUFS Seoul Campus raised the price of every menu item by 500 won (US$ 0.47). Many HUFSans love Fish Gimbap, especially the one with tuna, because its insides are densely stuffed with seasoned tuna. In addition, many other restaurants around the campus such as “Cozy” and “39 Pork Cutlet” also raised their prices. It is undoubtedly an upsetting event for college students who consider having a meal to be something more than a daily routine - it is akin to a pleasurable hobby that can be easily enjoyed in one’s daily life. More than feeling the happiness caused by the food’s flavor itself, or out of necessity due to starvation, people take in a meal as a cultural activity. Food is nowadays naturally immersed into their social media and social activities. The Argus found out specifically how they enjoy “the act of eating” regardless of economic changes at local dining spots around campus.
How do the young enjoy food?
People travel long distances for food
A person whose hobby is to take pictures wanders around to catch a magnificent moment. If someone’s interest is in visiting exhibitions, he or she seeks to go wherever the display is held. Nowadays, 20-year olds, who have come to enjoy eating special meals as a type of pastime or hobby, look for delicious and novel food and restaurants.
Many people take a gastronomic trip, even to a faraway region, to experience tasty and unique culinary delights. They specifically aim to reach various festivals and events on food themes. Due to the interest and enthusiasm of this generation, diverse food-related cultural events such as the Jeju Food & Wine Festival, Dutch Food Festival and Bamdokkaebi Night Market are taking place.
“My dream is to taste every delicious food traveling around the world. It would be really joyful to visit all of the restaurants, but I cannot fulfill such a wish right away. Therefore, I often visit international shops like Russian and Thai restaurants in Itaewon,” said Baek Hwi-seon, an undergraduate at Seoul Women’s University.
Not only the taste of the cooking itself but also the atmosphere of the place is considered when they go around looking for various dishes to consume. What can be seen and felt during the meal is also very important for young epicureans.
“Even if the taste of the food is somewhat plain, it is rewarding for me to visit a restaurant which has a wonderful interior and mood. The other day, I went to a cafe with a theme of ONE PIECE, a Japanese cartoon, and I loved it,” said a twenty-something undergraduate student from Kyung Hee University.
People cook or try to cook by themselves
There are a lot of people in their twenties who make meals for themselves as a hobby. There are also many others who are not good at cooking, but who try to do it by themselves.
Many young people enjoy their own homemade dishes not some food bought at the store. It definitely costs far less to do so, and the food can be made to suit their specific tastes. Some students participate in cooking clubs and take cooking classes to share the joy with others. “Dining,” an intercollegiate cooking club, aims to cook while learning about the happiness and sincerity embodied in every meal. Cooking classes are held four times a month. Club members make dishes that match a given theme and learn how to cook from a skilled chef. A community called “Sangsang Univ,” which supports college students’ cultural life and career, regularly holds cooking classes all across the country.
Cooking is also being highlighted in current films. In the movie “Little Forest,” the main character makes delicious yet unusual dishes like deep-fried acacia, flower pasta, and noodles in cold soybean soup with cucumber. Throughout the movie, scenes in which the protagonist, who is in her twenties, cooks and eats happily have stimulated the desire of young people to cook for themselves.
As it is seen in the movie, food became more meaningful to young people. This is circumstantially proved by the fact that the lead character cooked and ate all over the movie stream and that the film received a good response from audiences.
People show others how they feed themselves
Twenty-year-olds like to upload the photos of what they eat on social media such as Instagram and Facebook. The purpose of sharing can be roughly divided into two segments. The first one is really a personal reason. They just want to record what, where, and with whom they did eat. They save the memories in the form of pictures on social media, so as not to forget.
Further, by sharing photos, people can let their friends know what delicious gourmet cuisine they enjoyed and hence digitally boast about it. Many people have social media accounts which are only for uploading pictures of every food they had eaten.
A simple hobby of posting food-related contents in a rather personal space sometimes develops into an official online page, informing people about various types of restaurants and food items. This is the second purpose: to help others regarding food.
Choi Su-won, who is a HUFSan in the Division of Chinese Language, Literature and Culture, has been running the Facebook page named “HUFS Meal Choi.” At first, she created a temporary page just to organize numerous food photos stored in her phone. However, the number of followers became too large, so she decided to manage an official page that keeps HUFSans informed of restaurants worthwhile to visit.
Why do they take pleasure in food?
Changes in the meaning of eating
If having a meal was perceived as something that should be done in order to alleviate hunger, nowadays, eating food has become a hobby, where people can feel the joy of life in every conceivable bite.
From a long time ago, parents have asked after their children, who lived separate from them, or when people meet someone after a long time, “Are you eating well?” It implies that eating has been recognized as a necessity in our daily lives throughout history. Of course it is still important to eat, but the value has changed a bit since exposure to new and diverse types of food is not as difficult as it used to be in the ancient past, or even the recent past.
“The act of eating food is not just to be satiated. People now want to care for their own body and mind, and feel connected to each other through eating,” said culture critic Jeong Deok-hyun.
Culture critic Jeon Jong-hyuk stated further, “I publish a column named ‘The habit of enjoying art’ serially, in order to make various attempts to change my life. Likewise, I try to learn cooking techniques for another change in my daily routine. Everyone needs their own cuisines to cheer themselves on.”
When people think of eating and cooking, various concepts and meanings come to their mind, rather than in a simple and one-dimensional way.
The socio-economic conditions twenty-year-olds live in
Most students nowadays are under tremendous stress due to their studies and other things to care for with regard to their future. They have to prepare for every daily task, no matter how trivial, to make their dim future at least a little bit more clear.
Almost every person is sick and tired of living a monotonous lifestyle, but still, they have to live it intensely for fame, success or whatever they want out of life. The joy delicious meals can bring to the youth, in the middle of a hectic and repetitive routine, is petty yet significant. Needless to say, an overseas trip is the most trustworthy way to get away from a tedious routine, but it cannot be done easily due to the very real challenges such as having time off and appropriate amounts of money. People in their twenties feel a kind of cost-effective satisfaction and pleasure by enjoying food within their reach.
This tendency of twenty-somethings is related to one of this year’s key phrases called, “Small but Certain Happiness.” It means that the quantity or the size of a specific action or event is rather small, but it is surely practical in our daily lives. Instead of pursuing greater but uncertain happiness by purchasing a house, obtaining a position in a major company, and getting married, the youth of today feel joy by doing something feasible without any significant burden.
“Food is a very realistic choice that has been found out by people who noticed that chasing huge and fancy dreams is futile,” said culture critic Jeong.
What are the concerns?
Eating to show others
When people keep enjoying food as a hobby, it could be possible that actions like sharing and cooking can be done for the sake of display, rather than for their own pleasure or health. When people share some content online, they expect a certain response. In addition, people who run official Facebook pages or blogs are almost always obsessed with the ideas of how and what to show and inform. They are conscious of what others may think of their posts.
Once a person starts to share, he or she endlessly takes into consideration other people’s demands and cares about their reactions. People just do not fully enjoy eating and cooking what they want using all five senses, even when they are supposed to do so for their own sake. When cooking, a person may think of pretty decorations first, before he or she actually thinks of how it would taste.
“The process of having a proper meal can be altered in a way for show. There is always a limit to simply being a show-off,” said culture critic Kim Heon-sik.
Eating as a non-essential choice
In contrast to the people who actively do many activities with food, some people do not even have a proper meal. Contemplate the meaning of the sentence, “Food became something to be enjoyed in leisure time,” the other way around. A hobby is optional, not required. Why do some people in their twenties not even consider eating as their daily routine? Why has eating turned into a type of job for certain people?
Part of the reason is that students are too busy to eat decently. By moving busily, based on a preset timetable and doing piles of assignments, they sometimes miss their mealtime, so they just skip it. Some others consider that much more meaningful things, such as buying clothes and watching a show, can be done by saving money which would have been otherwise spent for eating.
On the other hand, it can be seen that the younger generation is trying to benefit from eating. Young people who appreciate the utility of food make it as their hobby, but those who are not aware of it simply do not eat.
It is quite a good phenomenon of the youth today to think of a meal as something more than a “must-do,” and enjoy eating in the daily lives. However, since a balanced diet is a necessary factor for life, they must be aware of the significance of adequate nourishment and have a timely meal.
“Changing what you eat every day is a good way to be a new person.” So states a passage from the book “7 p.m., Home-cooked Food - Dishes That Cheer Me Up,” written by Yukimasa Rika. It informs people that eating really counts in one’s life. Worries and anxieties concerning duties and human relationships occupy modern people’s heads. How about finding simple happiness in our repetitive daily life with food? Even a spoonful of rice can present you with a greater joy than you thought.
By Jeon Nu-ri
Associate Editor of Culture Section