We observe a unique tradition at my house every four years.
We watch the Winter Olympics on television.
OK, maybe lots of families watch the Winter Olympics on television.
But while we’re watching the Winter Olympics on television, we also make and eat foods popular in the host country.
For example, in 1998, we made stir fry. (Shout out to Nagano!)
In 2006, we made pizza and also spaghetti and meatballs. (Ciao, Turin!)
In 2014, we made soup and called it borscht. We also served salad topped with – you got it – Russian dressing. (Sochi, we salute you!)
This year, with the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, we’re making bulgogi, bibimbop, kimchi and sam gae tang.
I got the names of those dishes a minute ago by googling an interesting article that John Greenman, our former publisher here at the Ledger-Enquirer, wrote for us last year about local Korean cuisine.
Bulgogi is, and I’m quoting Greenman here, “seasoned beef in a savory sauce, sliced thin and broiled” with a “smoky sweet taste.”
Bibimbop is “mixed vegetables over rice often with a fried egg on top.” Make mine always with a fried egg on top.
Of course, kimchi, the national dish of Korea, is fermented cabbage, radish or sprouts. As Greenman says, “It’s an acquired taste.” Got it.
Sam gae tang is “a fragrant chicken-with-rice soup, flavored with ginseng, garlic and chili paste.”
It all sounds good to me, but we won’t be cooking these dishes. We’re going to get them at Korean restaurants in Columbus.
Greenman suggests these four, in alphabetical order:
• Golden Chopsticks, 3846 Saint Marys Road
• Korea House, 5507 Veterans Parkway
• Koreana, 5828 Moon Road
• Seoul Garden, 2009 S. Lumpkin Road
In case you’re wondering, TripAdvisor and Yelp contributors both rate Koreana No. 1, with the websites split on which order Korea House and Golden Chopsticks rank next.
Yelp readers rank Seoul Garden No. 4, while a fifth restaurant, Ok Sun Oriental Restaurant, 2929 Victory Circle, ranks No. 4 on TripAdvisor.
So this year, as part of our tradition, our family will be watching the Winter Olympics and eating takeout Korean food.
Oh yeah, and Bess and I will be telling the kids the same story we tell every year at this time.
It’s a story so great that our two oldest children considered attending college in Columbus instead of Athens just so they could hear it for another four years.
Alas, they did not.
The gist is that when we were newlyweds living in Germany, Bess suggested we attend the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Her family had towed a pop-up camper to Montreal in 1976 to see the decathlete now formerly known as Bruce Jenner win a gold medal, and she thought it would be fun to see obscure athletic events in a wintry setting.
I don’t think she had camping in mind, but when we were able to score event tickets but not hotel rooms, we rented a bunch of extreme cold-weather gear from Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation and did just that.
Our favorite event was bobsledding, during which we climbed to the top of the run in time to see Herschel Walker push his team’s sled out of the gate, fold down the handle, and hop in the back.
Ah, memories, this year served up with Korean food.
Enjoy the games. We will.