Let me introduce you to kimchi, one of the world's greatest, tastiest, healthiest foods!
Kimchi is a Korean food that is very popular in Japan. It is a spicy pickle made from vegetables, garlic and red chilli, served with almost every meal in Korea. In Korea, I hear that there are more than 200 different kinds of kimchi; in a typical Japanese supermarket there are probably about 10.
Over the years I've tried many of them, some of them were way too salty and fishy for my taste. I like this fairly standard one made from cabbage.
According to Wikipedia, Health Magazine named kimchi as one of the top 5 'World's Healthiest Foods' for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth. It is very high in dietary fibre, vitamin C and carotene, and is also rich in vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium and iron.
It is a probiotic and antioxidant food. Small scale studies show that it may have some efficacy in repressing avian flu H5N1 (well-fermented 3 year old kimchi mind you!), and they are now testing it's use against swine flu A/H1N1. I'm a little cynical about this... Both of these are viruses, not bacterial infections. However, I can see that if it strengthens your immune system, that has to be a good thing!
Over the last few years, I've been eating it a few times a week. Actually I think the first time I ate it was in okonomiyaki. I like it with grated cheese and brown rice for breakfast, and/or as a snack when I get home from work. If I put the rice cooker on with a little kimchi at the bottom of the rice, then oh, the delicious smell that greets me when I get home from work! (However, the rice actually cooks better if you add the kimchi at the end of cooking). Sometimes, I eat a little just as it is, especially if I have a cold! I certainly miss eating it when I'm away. All this has made my mouth water, guess what I'm going to have for tea tonight?!