The 2018 Hudson Valley Kimchi Festival takes place on Sunday, December 9.
On Sunday, December 18, 2016, nearly 400 people gathered at the Hudson Valley Kimchi Festival to celebrate both Korean heritage and cultural cuisine. The star of the culinary event was kimchi, a spicy, fermented cabbage dish, traditionally preserved underground in jars after preparation. It’s both a side dish and a flavor kicking condiment atop traditional treats, long been praised as a super food, for its various probiotics and vitamins believed to better digestive health. Though, it also serves another, more comical cultural purpose. Similar to the way Americans shout, “Cheese!” when taking photos, Koreans shout, “Kimchi!” to help the corners of your mouth turn up and reveal a picture-perfect smile.
The foodie event was fully free, funded by New Windsor’s World Mission Society Church of God, an international church founded in Korea. The celebration was thrown in honor of the church’s recent Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service win, the highest award for voluntary do-gooders in the UK.
Guests of the fest sampled a myriad of traditional and contemporary Korean dishes, including freshly mixed bubble tea, a typically fruity tea-based drink anchored by tapioca pearls; haemul pajeon, seafood pancakes made with squid, scallion, and bell peppers; and Bulgogi, grilled beef marinated with soy sauce, served with various Korean-style vegetables and fruit.
After filling their bellies, guests were encouraged to join in on a kimchi-making class and take home their creations. Once equipped with aprons, hats, and gloves, each person received a head of cabbage, and were taught how to prepare it the old-fashioned way; a process that involved massaging each leaf with spicy kimchi sauce. Juyoun Han, one of the kimchi-making teachers at the festival, comments on the importance of kimchi and the way it brings families together in preparation for the wintertime. She calls it “a sharing food,” a dish prepared by the whole family, made for the community.
Guests were unified not only through food, but also through energetic performances from the traditional Korean drum band, Elohim Samulnori, and the vibrant tones of the New York Church of God Orchestra. In a released statement, Pastor Daniel Lee of the Church of God called the festival a means of bringing the Valley closer together. “Kimchi was traditionally made by Korean mothers in preparation for the winter,” he said. “In the same way, we want to share the love of Heavenly Mother and warm the hearts of our neighbors.”