Mike and I have a deep love for food that may seem irrational to some. Those who eat-to-live pragmatically shun our excessive enjoyment. Yes, I agree that the whole foodie scene can be so frivolous, even wasteful. Foodies swoon over molecular gastronomy costing a ridiculous fortune while millions feel the sharp pangs of hunger on a daily basis. However, we all can appreciate a good over bad meal. Food can bring people together in special ways. The difference between grabbing coffee over sharing a meal hints at the intimacy produced when breaking bread together. All other senses can have a myriad of stimuli, but taste relies solely on food and drink for it to be completely utilized. We were created to experience this sense not simply for survival but to enjoy it to the fullest. Were we to reduce our senses to pure pragmatics we would only see the blaze, feel the heat, smell the smoke, and run from the fire. But we are also able to see breathtaking Southwestern sunsets, feel the snuggles of our affectionate son, smell the scent of lilacs in spring, and taste all the glorious food God gifted to us not just to live but to LIVE fully.
More often than not, what I cook in the kitchen falls under the general “American” food category. This week I had a craving for kimchi after viewing a picture on Instagram. This traditional Korean side dish even inspired poetry from me on one occasion that you can read here. Albuquerque is a small city, but at least it has a Korean grocery store that makes its own fresh kimchi weekly. You can recycle your jars back to the store for reuse and a tiny discount on your next purchase.
When we lived in Chicago for almost a decade, we were surrounded by such great urban diversity that we took it for granted our children would see many others who looked like them on a regular basis. I forgot that the overall percentage of Asians in the United States was less than 5 %. No wonder we stick out like sore thumbs here. No wonder a classmate of Ethan’s asked me where he was born. No wonder I grew up wishing I were white. I cannot fully prevent the discomforts my boys will face as minorities: the questions, stereotypes, teasing and racism. However, I can try to give them a sense of comfort in whom God created them to be. As their identities form, I want their heritage to bring feelings of harmony and pride not discord or shame. I want their childhood to be filled with the familiar scents and tastes of the unbeatable cuisine of Korea, the motherland. Walking through the aisles of Arirang Market inspired a commitment to cook Korean meals once a week on what I will call “Motherland Mondays.”
This idea came on Tuesday though, but we technically could consider our Monday meal as its start. Mike actually “cooked” (i.e., boiled water) and made the Korean college student’s staple, Chapagetti. Think ramen with black bean sauce instead of broth. On Tuesday I made up for the pseudo-Korean meal and cooked curry rice to accompany our fresh jar of kimchi. It was Japanese-style curry that became a part of Korean diets during the Japanese occupation. I remember eating it as a child. During my freshman year of college, my small group leader made some of us this curry dish and it was a taste of home. To be completely honest, it is not a culinary masterpiece but quite the opposite.
Food cravings whose fulfillment brings endorphin rushes are either deliciously flavorful in truth or have strong memories attached (and sometimes the blissful combination of both). I fixed myself a bowl of grits for breakfast this week. Grits from a completely objective view are not that exciting. The smushed hominy is bland and humble as far as breakfast foods go. However, when I ate it, I was a little girl in my mom’s kitchen savoring the occasional lumps I found before rushing off to school. It took me to my childhood and that trip elevates its status in the kitchen. So it goes with curry rice. It was good to me, and I loved that both boys wanted the leftovers tonight.
Here is hoping this new weekly endeavor continues. Remember my Kids Can Cook episodes? We did maintain them for awhile but have not done so in months now. I attribute its extinction to the fact that every time it was Connor’s turn to pick what he wanted to cook we had to eat pasta with homemade cheesy sauce. Sounds good until you eat it every other week for months. Because it was from their Paula Dean cookbook, our arteries needed a break from all that butter and half-and-half. Ethan recently expressed interest in restarting so maybe we will after I hide the Paula Dean cookbook from Connor. I hope my boys continue to appreciate the flavors of Korean food until those tastes become a part of who they are and what is home to them as well. We Becketts definitely live to eat. Bon appetit, fellow food-lovers!