South Korea is in the grip of a Kimchi crisis. A bad cabbage harvest has driven up the price of the ubiquitous, spicy, pickled vegetable dish. And some restaurants are now considering the drastic step of charging customers for their previously gratis Kimchi side salads.
This has prompted the government in Seoul to break off from dealing with relatively unimportant matters such as the conflict with the nuclear armed regime to the north and to look for ways to alleviate the crisis. Plans have been announced to scrap tariffs on imports of cabbage. And a full-on Kimchi subsidy could be next.
This all provokes the thought: what could prompt a similar culinary emergency in other countries? Italians would go mad without their pasta. France could not long survive a baguette embargo. An ackee and saltfish shortage would cripple Jamaica. Whole swathes of central and eastern Europe would be in peril without their borscht.
But what about Britain? A new potato blight, restricting the supply of chips? No: the late Robin Cook was right. It would have to be a dwindling of the national reserves of tikka masala.