My sister’s parents-in law sent a giftbox of dduk to my parents in keeping with the Korean tradition of eating dduk on New Year’s Day. The box of dduk and each of the individual dduks made for some interesting and pretty photographs that my Dad and I snapped while I was showing him how to use the macro function on his digital camera. After uploading the successful photos and trashing the *ahem* trial photos that were blurrier than the view from my kitchen window of the monsoon that whipped rain sideways over the weekend, I [alt]+[tab]-ed to Word as I usually do. I waited for that sparkling stream of unconsciousness to flow from the beauty that is my mind, down my arms, out the two fingers on each of my hands (I never learned to type correctly), through the keyboard and into pure brilliance on my laptop’s screen and...I kept waiting. Nothing came out! What the...?!?
That’s not entirely true. What I meant to say is that nothing nice came out. The problem is, I don’t really like dduk, and I found myself naturally petulant – snippy, snide comments and whiny words were appearing character-by-character on the screen. I tried to delete and re-write because one of my new year’s resolutions is to “write nice.” But suddenly, in some strange schizophenic turn on myself, such strict self-regulation tripped the alarm on my ugly inherent rebellious nature and all I could do was watch phrases like “works for dessert if you like sticky slimy goopy goo” appear on the screen.
I even tried to play it safe by turning away from any taste opinions and writing something completely objective or expository, but I realized that beyond the simple fact that my family ate some of the dduk from the box after our New Year’s meal of dduk gook, I didn’t have much else to say without being painfully repetitive. I’ve already written about the history of tradition itself twice now, and had a guest blogger last Spring dedicate an entire post to his Mom’s dduk at San Soo Dang in LA’s Koreatown. I most certainly wasn’t going to post a recipe for dduk and make some of it myself.
But dammit, if I was going to let those pretty pictures that my Dad took go to waste!
So after a momentary internal struggle and more than a moment’s worth of wine, I finally figured out a way to stay true to my feelings and let my words about dduk flow out naturally, even if they are not always positive. I’m just going to explain ten of my New Year’s food/foodblog resolutions with this box of dduk. See? I knew that bit of brilliance was lurking in there somewhere. ;)
1. Search for My Seoul. Like dduk, I am Korean and I am going to not only be proud of my culture, language, and especially my food, but I am going to actively promote it, even if it means I have to wear one of those ridiculous hahn-bohks while grilling galbee. Growing up, I hated being Korean. Sure, there were times when the benefits of being Korean had a slight margin over being American, like when I got money on New Year’s Day, but in general, I tried best I could to hide the fact that I am Korean. It wasn’t until I went to college in Berkeley that I finally accepted that I was Asian, and not until I moved down to Los Angeles that I figured out I should like being Korean, too.
2. Eat local. This gift box is from a dduk bakery (I’m not quite sure what a dduk-making place is called, but thought “bakery” would be as close as it would get) called Ho Won Dang. Though the original is in Seoul, this box came from the local LA branch just across the 405 freeway in Koreatown. Now, this brings me to my second resolution of eating local more than I did last year. This won’t be all that difficult because I didn't eat local last year aside from my visits to local farmers’ markets, I didn’t focus on local food producers at all.
3. Grow something. I may not be able to grow something as complicated (and profitable) as wasabi, but still I have resolved to grow something, anything, even if it means cilantro like the garnish on the dduk. I have no idea why someone would think cilantro would taste good on dduk that is filled with sweet red bean, but hey, I don’t think it tastes good in phô either, so never mind.
4. Cook at home. I’d really like to cook at home at least twice as much as I did last year. Twice as much cooking at home still won’t be half as much as I went out, but it’s a start. Given that my direct deposit isn’t quite as direct and if you really must know, then no, it's not really depositing at all, cooking at home is a budget-wise consideration, not to mention that it allows me to explore Korean cooking a little more. On New Year’s Day, I ate all of the dduk gook Mom made at home, but didn’t eat too much of the dduk that was bought out. Wow, didn’t think I could pull that one out my butt, could you?
5. Expand My Dining Horizons. There are all different kinds of dduk, and even though I just resolved to cook at home more, I do want to vary my dining experiences. Last year, I found myself very rarely eating outside a five mile radius of my Westside abode. I hate traffic, and trying to arrive for a dinner reservation in Hollywood between the normal hours of 7:00 and 8:30 PM means I have to drive in horrendous traffic through Westwood, Beverly Hills, etc. But I will suck it up. Or find someone else to drive.
6. Finish what I start. This is how my sister eats dduk: s
he picks one piece up, takes a bite, and puts it back! I suspect she will do the same thing with all those boxes of See’s Candies she’ll be getting next month. (Because is that’s the way she eats chocolate, I’m not wasting money on Teuscher!) The point is, she didn’t finish the dduk. Not me. This year, I am going to finish all the mini projects that I started last year, including my master To-Dine List.
7. Be nice. Since I don’t like dduk, my first instinct was to point out all of its shortcomings and whine about them, like I am so wont to do, it seems. The thing is, I wasn’t born this way. I used to love everything and gushgushgush, and even if I didn’t love it, I tried to be nice about it, and even if I couldn’t be nice about it, then I kept my nasty curses to myself. I noticed that after being eliminated back in September and forced to stay home all day with someone named “gmail” as my only “human” contact and bossing around a small yellow running stick figure, my posts were riddled with semi-censored swear words and were sounding more and more like those of an embittered, cynical, resentful, reclusive anti-socialite. I am going to ElizaDoolittle myself back to a sweet, positive-thinking, loving, charming, sees-the-goddamn-good-in-every prissy little pink Hello Kitty fairy princess. Okay? So, f--k you! Oops.
8. Post more regularly and consistently. The dduk in the gift box were all lined up one right after the other in regular intervals. This is how I hope to post on The Delicious Life this year because last year, my blog couldn’t keep up with my mouth and I have to get back on schedule. No one is holding anything like money or fois gras over me. I just like having order. Speaking of order...
9. Organize my blog. Like to the individual pieces of dduk grouped into pretty, frilly little wrappers, and then placed in nice neat compartments, I need to organize my restaurant posts on my blog and make them easily accessible. Right now, they’re all just somewhere. Out there. In the great unknown called “archive.” So now I’ve got to group them by something logical and make them easy to browse and read. Logical categories, like what? Still trying to figure that out, along with how to manipulate the software to do this.
10. Call my friends. This resolution may seem slightly out of place, and I’m sure I can’t see how it fits in with the box of dduk, but I have to add it because, well, I just do. Blogging does weird things to your life, and if you aren’t careful, you might forget that you once had a life that actually had people in it. Remember those? People? They were your friends. You actually saw them and talked to them. Sadly, horribly, embarrassingly, I’ve almost completely lost touch with my friends because I’ve been too busy uploading photos, re-sizing them, and writing stories, and coming up with ideas, and posting and...and....and....
See all those pieces of dduk? They’re made from rice. In Asia, you never leave a single grain rice of by itself. That’s just like people – a person can’t be alone or else she’ll sit on the edge of the plate on the dirty side of the sink all by herself and shrink and shrivel and dry up until she falls off and gets washed down the drain with all the other rotting food in the garbage disposal. Let’s try to remember that we cook and go out to restaurants and eat and share food because we want to spread love and be with our friends and family.
Hopefully by the end of this year, I’ll have a neatly organized blog and a few nice things to say about dduk.