[FOUNTAIN]Hard to swallowThe concentration of salt in the body’s fluid is the same as that of seawater 200 million years ago. There are about 90 kinds of minerals still in sea water, although there are only 42 kinds of minerals on land ― and about half of them get washed out through rainwater. That is why it is best to supplement the minerals we need, such as iodine, by eating seaweed.
Yanwotang is one of the most delicious Chinese food delicacies. The swallows which live near the ocean build their nests on island cliffs. They use Ceylon moss as a building material. They break it into small pieces and mix it with their sticky saliva. Yanwotang is a noodle dish made with these nests. The wobbly noodle is delicate but does not break easily. It is exquisite and tasty, but luxurious. The dish is abundant in nutrients because it is full of sea minerals.
The yanwotang is a product of greed disturbing the swallows. The first nests are white. These high quality nests are presented to the king. The homeless swallows build another nest, this time also using their feathers since they are in a hurry. This nest is low quality. The last nests they build in their lifetime are tinged in red, the finest quality that is not even offered to the king. Swallows build this nest coughing blood because their saliva has dried up. Emperor Qianlong of the the Qing Dynasty ate a bowl of this nest soup everyday. He lived to the age of 83 years old, the longest among the Chinese emperors.
Koreans are also cruel to swallows. The swallows will return on March 3 on the lunar calendar, and about a month has passed since then, and the swallows have not yet come back. Six years have passed since Seoul designated it as an animal to be taken care of. The number of swallows has decreased drastically this year, low enough for the Properties Administration to consider including them as a Natural Asset.
Bird specialists say, “With the whole city becoming full of apartments, swallows that build nests on the edge of the eaves have no where to live.”
Swallows are known to bring good news swiftly. That’s why the post office has kept the swallow as its symbol for 22 years. With the disappearance of swallows, the post office reportedly plans to change its symbol. Pathetic!
The Korean Federation for Environmental Movement asked the candidates for Seoul mayor to make a pledge to provide Seoul with swallows. The candidate who can bring back the swallows! Seoul without swallows is no better than tundra. How could we tell the tale of Heungbu to our children without the swallows?
by Lee Chul-ho
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.