4 Characters Korean Idioms
Fight Fire with Fire !!!!!!!!!!!!
이열치열(ee-yeol-chee-yeol), have you heard of this four character idiom? There is no direct translation to it, but it means fight fire with fire or heat with heat. It has the meaning of “overcoming a bad thing with another bad thing.”
This phrase is often used in summer. Korean summer is hot, and Koreans say that you should eat something hot in hot summer to overcome the heat. Does it make sense? It’s not the popsicles and ice cold water (well yes, Koreans do eat and drink cold food but), Koreans eat something hot, hotter than the summer heat, to beat the summer heat. It’s similar to the concept of ‘eye for an eye’.
If you happen to be in Korea in summer, do as Koreans do, torture your body with extra heat and sweat before you sweat because of the summer heat!
Samgyetang is probably the most typical and popular stamina food in Korea. It’s basically a broth with a whole chicken in it along with some medical herbs served in a hot pot. Koreans divide summer into 3 periods, each terms begin on the specific dates and these are called ‘초복(the entry of summer), 중복(the mid-summer), 말복(the closing summer)’ Koreans eat stamina food on those dates to supplement the loss of energy from the heat.
Moreover, 이열치열 is not limited to hot food only. Any food that makes you sweat, like extreme spicy food (you know Korean’s love for spicy food xD), can be eaten for 이열치열. Can you name other Korean food or other cuisine you can eat for 이열치열?
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