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Sri Lankan Food Festival kicks off at Millennium Seoul HiltonWith the attendance of ambassador, civic figures

An extensive Sri Lankan food festival was opened at the premium Caf? 395 International Restaurant at Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel in Seoul on Jan. 28, 2016 for a 10-day run until Feb. 7 with the attendance of Ambassador Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka, Chairman Shin Tae-yong of the Korea Importers Association, General Manager and Mrs. Eric Swanson of the Hotel, Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, President Ms. Koobon Il of the Korea Buddhist Broadcasting Station, Executive Director Chang Yeon-hoon of the Korea Exim Bank and the representatives of various other business and public organizations.

▲Ambassador Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka speaks to the guests at the opening ceremony of the Sri Lankan Food Festival at Millennium Seoul Hilton on Jan. 29, 2016.

It was one of the rare opportunities for the Korean and international gourmets to sample and enjoy a wide variety of genuine Sri Lankan delicacies.
Welcoming the Korean and international guests, Ambassador Gunasekera of Sri Lanaka said that Sri Lanka had a culinary tradition rich in flavor and aroma and that Sri Lanka had a culinary tradition rich in flavor and aroma.
She said, “The country has been part of the historical Spice Route spanning the East and West and our food has been cross fertilized over centuries by Portuguese, Dutch and Indian cuisine, among others.” Then said, “The combination of spices, vegetables, fish and meats, and the use of clay chattis or cooking pots, all contribute to the end product of complex yet exquisite dishes, from hoppers and kottu to sambols and curries.” (See further details at the end of this Article.)
Among the representative foods of Sri Lanka were yellow rice, string hopper pillaw, crab curry, cashew curry, egg and plain hoppers, fish ambulthiyal, brinjalmoju, dhal wade, cutlets, devilled beef and prawns, and Sri Lankan specialty desserts.

▲Ambassador Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka (third from left) cuts ribbons to open the Sri Lankan Food Festival at the Millennium Seoul Hilton on Jan. 29, 2016 with, from right, General Manager Eric Swanson of Millennium Seoul Hilton, Executive Director Chang Yeon-hoon of the Korea Exim Bank and Mrs. Swanson (right to left). At far left is President Ms. Koo Bon Il of the Korea Buddhist Broadcasting Station and next to her is Chairman Shin Tae-yong of the Korea Importers Association.

On the occasion of the 68th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence Day, the Sri Lanka Embassy in Seoul is hosting a series of events to celebrate the occasion and the Sri Lankan Food Festival at Millennium Seoul Hilton is one of the major celebration this year.
Adding to the delightful atmosphere at the opening ceremony were three traditional Sri Lankan musicians (drum players) who presented Sri Lankan music and dances, including acrobatic performances such as somersaulting.
The Sri Lankan food festivalshowcaseda long list of authentic Sri Lankan food and Ceylon tea plus a rich range of Sri Lankan spices.
Three experienced chefs from Hilton Colombo were flown in to support the Millennium Seoul Hilton in preparing the genuine Sri Lankan delicacies.
The tropical island since time immemorial is well known for its spices which have been traditionally used to enrich food with aroma and flavour. The cinnamon plant is endemic to Sri Lankawhich continues to dominate the world market for true cinnamon.Ceylon tea being world renowned for its superior quality and taste, the connoisseur of tea will be able to taste a range of specialty teas from different regions in the island, such as NuwaraEliya, UdaPussellawa, Uva and Dimbulla.
Other events organized by the Embassy to celebrate the Independence Day of Sri Lanka which falls on Feb. 4, include a reception in Seoul with the participation of Korean dignitaries and the diplomatic corps, and a reception in Gimhae City with the participation of the large Sri Lankan community in Korea

▲Ambassador Gunasekera of Sri Lanka (second from left) poses with General Manager and Mrs. Eric Swanson of the Millennium Seoul Hilton (right and second from right). At left is Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, publisher of three English and two Korean-language publications.

Sri Lankan cuisine has long been renowned for its spices. Since ancient times, traders from all over the world who came to Sri Lanka brought their native cuisines to the island, resulting in a rich diversity of cooking styles and techniques. One of the most complex cuisines in the world, the food of Sri Lanka uses bountiful local ingredients including some of the hottest peppers in the world.

Excerpts from the welcome speech of Ambassador Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka:
I am pleased to be present here today on this important occasion to mark the opening of the Sri Lanka Food Festival 2016 at the Millennium Seoul Hilton. The Food Festival, which will continue till 7th February, is organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Seoul and the Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel in parallel to the 68th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence.
May I at the outset, on behalf of the Embassy and the Millennium Seoul Hilton, extend a very warm welcome to all of you including, special invitees and media personnel, who have joined us today despite your busy schedules, to enjoy this evening of Sri Lankan food and Ceylon tea.
Sri Lanka has a culinary tradition rich in flavor and aroma. The country has been part of the historical Spice Route spanning the East and West. Our food has been cross fertilized over centuries by Portuguese, Dutch and Indian cuisine, among others. The combination of spices, vegetables, fish and meats, and the use of clay chattis or cooking pots, all contribute to the end product of complex yet exquisite dishes, from hoppers and kottu to sambols and curries.

▲In the foreground, from left, are General Manager Lee Hyung-joo of the Namyangju Slow Life Festival Organizing Committee, Manager Ms. Park Soo-jin of the same Committee, Chef Bernard Butz of Millennium Seoul Hilton (who took part in the Food Festival representing Millennium Seoul Hilton) and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.

You would also have occasion today to taste Ceylon tea world renowned for its superior quality and taste. The connoisseur will be able to taste a range of specialty teas from different regions in the island, such as NuwaraEliya, UdaPussellawa, Uva and Dimbulla.
Apart from tea and spices, Sri Lanka is also world famous for its healing tradition called Ayurveda, a practice of relaxation, rejuvenation and healing rituals passed down from the time of ancient Kings. This has provided us with a range of treasured formulae, rituals and spa products, to hydrate, treat and purify the body and mind.
It is all of the above, as well as the pristine beaches, natural beauty and culture, that has made this tropical island a perpetual tourist attraction. Sri Lanka has been named a top tourist destination for 2016 by Fox News. Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka from Korea have registered a remarkable growth of 232% within the course of five years. This demonstrates the growing interest among Korean tourists in exploring this beautiful tropical island and its many wonders.

▲Famous Ceylon tea and various other items of Sri Lanka are on display at the entrance to the venue of the Sri Lankan Food Festival at the Millennium Seoul Hilton.

I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to the Millennium Seoul Hilton led by General Manager Mr. Eric Swanson, for their unstinted support and professionalism in organizing this Food Festival. I also wish to convey my gratitude to the Colombo Hilton for their support including providing a Master Chef from Colombo to prepare Sri Lankan delicacies at this event.
I also take this opportunity to thank RCK Enterprises, the Distributor of Mlesna Tea; Spa Ceylon and MA’S Foods for their cooperation extended in showcasing a rich range of Ceylon tea, Sri Lankan spices, spa products and handicrafts. We also have a glimpse of Sri Lankan dance and drum music lined up for you for this evening.
So rather than talk the talk, I would much rather allow the food served today to walk the talk. I wish you a very special and enjoyable evening.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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