A pessimistic metaphor for marriage in noodle soupSo a colleague recently left a book on my desk called “Find a Husband at 32.”
Maybe I should have prepared for this moment earlier. Apparently, I wasn’t ready for the point in my womanhood in which I would have to rush into my living room, shivering in terror, and hide a book deep in a drawer whenever a guest comes over. Luckily, I am starting to deal with such high-stress situations without feeling too bitter. A promising sign!
One of the stresses involved in being a single woman over 30 in Korea ― or anywhere in the developed world, for that matter ― is enduring the people around you who nag you for not having gotten married yet. Indeed, I had one such episode just this week with my father, arguing over snacks about whether his persistence on this subject is a matter of being “pushy” or “encouraging.” He insisted he was being encouraging, though I don’t see how.
It’s hard to say. Sure, there are certain truths involved in the marriage “market” for people trying to enter the system. A famous joke in Korea compares a woman’s age to Christmas cakes: If it’s past 26, there’d better be a damn good reason.
Sure, things have changed as more women take on professional careers, blah, blah. But men haven’t changed, at least not very much. Women are desperate to keep their jobs, because we know that financial competence determines a person’s position, even within the family, at least in the capitalist system. We saw our mothers suffer because they simply didn’t have economic power outside the home.
Now the government is focusing on family values, pushing citizens to have more kids. But women are too scared that we might screw up. What about raising kids, cleaning the house and so on? Can love make up for all the hardships involved in marriage?
I guess I started thinking about this at a friend’s recent wedding, as I quietly slurped the noodle soup that’s typically served at such occasions. Trying to carry on a casual conversation about marriage with my old friends, after having browsed through the chapters of the book my colleague gave me, was a disturbing reminder that I’ve somehow lost touch with the world when it comes to marriage and values.
Maybe marriage is like noodle soup, I thought. It tastes really good for the first five minutes, but after a few bites, you wish you’d had steamed rice instead. After having that thought, it became almost impossible to eat them.
For now, I’ve decided one thing for sure: There aren’t going to be any noodles at my wedding.
By the way, I was intrigued by a significant change made in the Korean translation of the book “Find a Husband at 32,” in which Rachel Greenwald, a Wellesley graduate and a Harvard MBA, suggests using marketing tactics to find a husband. It turns out that the title of the English-language original is “Find a Husband After 35.” I guess if you’re a Korean woman, you can start worrying three years earlier.
How to Cook
Janchi guksu (noodle soup)
Ingredients: 3 cups of flour, 1 cup of bean powder, 100g of ground beef, 1 zucchini, 1 egg, 10 anchovies, 1 sheet of dasima (seaweed), olive oil, salt, 1 red chili pepper. Sauce: 1 teaspoon of diced green onion, 1/2 teaspoon of crushed garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce,1 teaspoon of sesame oil, pinches of sesame seeds and black pepper. Serves 4.
1. To make the broth, put the anchovies and seaweed in a medium-sized pot of water over medium heat. When the water comes to a boil, take them out and discard them. Add some salt and let the broth cool. Bring another pot of water to a boil.
2. Slice the zucchini and salt the slices. Squeeze the moisture out of the slices and pan-fry them.
3. Fry the egg and slice it.
4. Put the beef, green onion, garlic, salt, sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds and pepper into a pan and stir-fry.
5. Mix the flour with bean powder and enough water to make dough. Roll it out thinly, cut it into noodle strings and put the strings in boiling water. Remove after a few minutes.
6. In a bowl, mix the noodles, beef, zucchini and eggs. Chop the red chili pepper and add it to the bowl. Add the broth.
From miz.naver.com, Delicook
by Park Soo-mee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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