Out with the bad holiday memories, in with the goodSome of my worst memories are from Chuseok.
My older cousin Sun-gu always yelled at me for picking my teeth, saying I was trying to act like an adult. Other male cousins used to leave me alone with a bunch of elders at my grandfather’s house while they went off to play, because I was a girl.
Another concern of mine about Chuseok was the food. It probably had to do with my Catholic upbringing, but it took me some time to overcome my fear of eating food that had been prepared for ancestral worship. I couldn’t go near it; I felt it was “tainted” by evil spirits that I was not supposed to make contact with.
As a child, I would sit in the corner of the room as the ceremony began, anxiously staring at the food, waiting for it to rise from the plates and fly over the table. Those bowls of steamed rice with silver spoons stuck into them are still a horrifying image of death in my childhood memories.
Deep down, my fear of Chuseok food boils down to a tendency toward superstition that I inherited from my mother. For years, my mother couldn’t get over her fear of cats. She said horrible things happened to her whenever she saw a cat in her dreams.
This was true, at least a few times. When I was in the fifth grade, my mother dreamed about a cat that tore open her paper doors and broke into her room. The next day, she slit her finger with a knife while preparing dinner. One summer, she had another dream about a cat, and the next day a bottle of soda exploded on the balcony, where she was hanging laundry.
Her fear dates back to her teens, when she was at a friend’s house and saw a kitten with a U-shaped plastic boomerang stuck on its neck. She said the kitten had been playing with the toy and almost choked on it; according to her description, the cat jumped up and down the wall in a panic, blue flashes coming from its eyes. This was a childhood trauma for her. Her friend’s family, who felt spooked after observing that scene, got rid of the cat the next day.
I don’t mind Chuseok food so much now. Frankly, I don’t mind anything about any of the holidays since I started working, as long as my older relatives don’t ask me dull questions about my dating life.
Now that I have my own apartment, I can spend a quiet day or two during Chuseok on my own, just sitting on my sofa and watching all the TV shows I’ve missed, although the shows aired during this season are usually bad family melodramas.
I do look forward to the food: the trumpet shell on a skewer, which my aunt will make for the ceremony; the cod filets; the tangguk, the seafood soup which my grandmother used to stay awake until early morning before Chuseok to make.
I wonder what this food will taste like when I eat it alone in my apartment.
I’m looking forward to Chuseok.
How to Cook
Ingredients: 100g of beef, 1/8 of a radish, 1/4 of a block of tofu, 1 green onion, 8 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of seasame oil, small amounts of salt and pepper. Serves 4.
1. Cut the beef, tofu and radish into small cubes. Thinly slice the green onion.
2. Heat the sesame oil in a large pot over a medium flame, add the beef and radish and stir for 2 or 3 minutes.
3. Add the water and bring to a boil. Boil for an hour to an hour and a half.
4. Add the tofu, green onion, garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Boil for about 15 minutes.
5. Serve with extra soy sauce, if needed.
Provided by miz.naver.com, Delicook
by Park Soo-mee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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