In the wake of the Chosǒn-United States
Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation (1882), the relationship
between the Korean Empire and the Western world intensified, and large
groups of diplomats, missionaries and travelers arrived in the
peninsula. Lloyd H. Snyder was among those newcomers and acted as a
missionary educator intermittently for more than thirty years in Korea.
This article employs a letter－which was sent by Snyder in 1909 to a
visitor from the United States－as a primary source to elucidate how an
inexperienced American missionary explicated the details of a meal that
he consumed at the house of a privileged Korean. Aside from providing
concise insight about Korea’s deep-rooted culinary practices and
traditions and a number of pertinent examples from late nineteenth- and
early twentieth-century American accounts, it also demonstrates how a
young American in the early 1900s perceived, scrutinized and conveyed
some significant features of the gastronomic identity of Korean elites.
In a historical context, the article also demonstrates the relevance and
significance of food and eating habits in defining and recognizing a
society’s cultural identity.