A remembrance of family and foodI was suddenly reminded of my sister-in-law Sue as I found myself writing her name on a “farewell” letter to my family I was asked to write by my life planner after buying my first life insurance policy.
As I was writing, I was a bit surprised that I considered her part of my family. Don’t get me wrong. I was the only one who defended her when my mother once gossiped during a family dinner without Sue that her middle toes were too long for a girl. (Then she made it up to my brother by saying she looks like Julia Roberts.)
Sue and I exchanged letters when we were living in different cities, complaining about the unpleasant moments of our lives.
But I must confess one thing, now that enough time has passed, and since she won’t be reading this column, because she doesn’t live here. It took a few years for me to get used to the food she made.
She wasn’t a bad cook, but she just had her own way of twisting a common recipe. This may have been influenced by her peculiar appetite. As a snack she often had a toasted bagel and a side plate of kimchi.
One time she invited me for casual lunch over kimchi fried rice. The way she served it, though, was uniquely different. Instead of frying the rice and kimchi in a pan as is usually done, she would spread fried kimchi on top of steamed rice, almost as one would serve curry rice or omelet rice in Japan or Korea. I joked about it being “a kimchi bibimbap,” but the taste wasn’t so bad.
I am sure, though, it must have been a culture shock for her as well to get used to my family’s eating habits. Coming from a family that ate like sparrows, seeing people indulging in a giant plate of steamed dumplings two hours after having a huge meal might have been a traumatic experience for her.
She seemed to doubt human digestive ability when she saw our family finishing 10 steamed crabs when we went to Yeongdeok for a family trip a few years back.
It’s been almost 10 years since I met Sue. And maybe it’s about time she feels like my family.
How to Cook
Kimchi fried rice
Ingredients: 100 grams canned tuna,100g kimchi, 50g each of carrots, onions, mushrooms, green pepper and parmesan cheese, 300g cold rice, salt, gim (dried seaweed), sesame seeds, vegetable oil.
1. Drain the oil from the tuna. Dice the kimchi into small pieces.
2. Dice carrots, onions, mushrooms and green pepper.
3. Grease a heated pan with the vegetable oil; add kimchi and the vegetables.
4. Add rice and tuna.
5. Add cheese at the end.
6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and dried seaweed, and serve.
Yield: one serving
by Park Soo-mee