seoul searching no. 3 - simple korean
All around the country today, families are noshing on every permutation of chips and salsa five alarmchili cheesefries and onion rings with a side of buffalowings and 2 large supreme pizzas. Oh yeah, and they're probably watching the superbowl, too. My little family, though, is enjoying the game in a more traditional korean, less traditional american, way. As much as I love Korean food, especially since I very rarely get to eat it during the regular week, I miss the annual Super Bowl “bar food” binge. and that’s also becasuse I rarely get to eat all the delicious loaded nachos, fried chicken, and jalapeno poppers.
Most of the the afternoon is spent educating my korean cousin in the finer points of the game of football. she has suddenly taken a huge interest in the game, though i suspect it’s simply that there are two dozen athletic guys in very tight pants chasing after a tiny ball. and i can’t even imagine what a fan she would become if it were brett favre vs. peyton manning! it’s sort of sad really, because even though i was a cheerleader in high school, my explaining the game to her is like the blind leading the blond. i think we both don’t really get what a “down” is.
While she is learning american pasttimes (she's sneaked a bag of doritos out of the pantry), i am learning more about korean food. tonight is a simple family dinner, the way a korean family would eat five or six nights a week. there’s rice, a few basic bahn-chan, and soup. in addition to the heen-bahp (plain steamed white rice) my mother has also prepared jah-ggo-bahp (rice with mixed grains and beans) for my grandmother. neither matter to me; i don’t eat rice.
We have two soups: bae-choo gook (cabbage soup) that is healthy for my uncle’s heart, and hae-jahng gook (spicy vegetable and shredded beef soup) that actually tastes good. no, they really both taste great, and are perfect for this day that’s a bit cold and gray.
The bahn-chan are simple and don’t require any preparation – the ones that can simply be taken straight from the refrigerator to the table. geem (korean toasted nori), kimchee, and a few other spicy pickled vegetables, as well as myul-chee, tiny dried anchovies sauteed in a sweet soysauce. just for me (or at least, that what she tells me) my mom always puts out the doo-boo moo-chim, pan-fried slices of tofu that are dressed with the same spices as kimchee. this is the way we eat.
Oh, yeah, and i couldn't resist grabbing a bag of the new kids' cheddar chex mix out of the pantry, too.