Green pickled garlic and the wisdom of the Internet

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Green pickled garlic and the wisdom of the Internet

For the past few months, the recipes I’ve used for this column have come from a food Web site that’s part of a well-known Korean online portal. Supposedly, the site is for amateur cooks with little or no experience, although I agree with my editor that their recipes come nowhere close to meeting the needs of first-time chefs. Kitchen experience seems to be assumed, and they often don’t give exact measurements or cooking times.
I admit it ― their recipes are sloppy. And though we’ve tried to fill in the gaps before printing them, I nevertheless apologize deeply for any inconvenience caused to readers who’ve tried them at home.
But here is the secret reason I really love this site: It’s funny.
If you go to the bulletin boards, which usually have anecdotes about the failures of amateur cooks stumbling around with their measuring cups, it makes you realize how much anxiety and confusion there are in the nation’s kitchens.
When I visited the boards recently, a young man with the unusual Internet nickname “ohellrock” had asked for suggestions as to what he should cook for his new girlfriend, whom he had invited to his house for dinner for the first time. “Is there a special menu? I want something simple and easy that could impress her,” he said.
The next day a user named “ajtwlsrnrdl” left this comment: “Go buy an instant curry, and tell her you’ve made it yourself. If she doesn’t trust you, you should break up with her.” Another visitor responded to “ajtwlsrnrdl,” “Try that for your girlfriend, you idiot!”
The friendliest yet most intimidating advice the inquirer got was from “dewy1121,” who identified himself as a middle school student. “I am 14 years old, and curry is the easiest thing you can make,” he said. “You know how to cut vegetables, pour water and add curry paste, right?” The writer almost seemed to pity these adults who were having such a banal exchange.
Another thread was started by “megina71,” who had a concern about pickled garlic. This user, who appeared to be a young woman, complained that her pickled garlic had turned green after soaking in vinegar for a few days.
A writer named “wji1324” gave a lengthy diagnosis in a very professional tone, ending with the comment, “it shouldn’t affect you eating them.” Another writer disagreed: “If they’ve turned green, it probably means you should throw them away and make new pickles. You can’t eat green pickled garlic!” A passing visitor left a China-bashing comment, saying that the garlic had probably been imported from there and that Chinese preservatives had turned it green.
The highlight of this discussion came from “wlals305,” who said, “That happened to me too. And an old lady in my neighborhood said it’s because the garlic has gone mad. She said if you leave it alone it’ll come back to its original color.”
Or, I thought, maybe it was Christmas magic. Meanwhile, my New Year’s resolution is to try to find a better source for recipes.

How to Cook

Pickled garlic
(Maneul jjangajji)

Ingredients: 200g of soy sauce, 400g of garlic cloves, 32g of sugar, 100g of vinegar

1. Put the garlic in a container with a lid, and add the vinegar and an equal amount of water. Close the lid, and leave the container at room temperature for about a week.
2. Drain the vinegar and water from the container. Boil the sugar and soy sauce in a pot for a few minutes, let it cool and pour it into the container with the garlic.
3. After 15 days at room temperature, pour the sauce out of the container, boil it again, let it cool and return it to the container with the garlic. Repeat this process for two months.
From, Delicook

by Park Soo-mee
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