Abstract

This article analyzes the role of gastronomical narratives in constructing the Korean War as “forgotten” by examining competing discourses about budae jjigae, a soup dish of American military base leftovers such as Spam, hot dogs, and American cheese and Korean food staples such as kimchi and ramen noodles. American “foodie” discourses divorce budae jjigae from its war-torn past, deliberately forgetting and simultaneously casting nostalgia over the “postwar” conditions in which the dish arose. Literally translated “military base stew,” budae jjigae’s permanence in Korean cuisine, in South Korea and in Korean America, not only represents the postwar realities of survivors, but also records transgenerational traumas, the American influence “left behind,” and remembers that neither the “forgotten” war nor the U.S. occupation of South Korea is over. Discussing how budae jjigae embodies, critiques, and resists sensory colonization, I posit that critically consuming the dish helps us understand the entwined natures of Korean and American identities with American Empire today.

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