Awaiting the perfect meal, eating junk on porcelainKoreans say plates are at the highest end of human luxury. It’s what you buy after you have all the clothes, jewelry, cars and home accessories you possibly need.
I don’t know if this is really true, because my appreciation for expensive plates began long before I started shopping without my mother’s advice.
While all my friends were maxing out their credit cards on brand name clothes, jewelry and travel after college, I was drooling over a garden rose set of porcelain plates I saw in my mother’s home decorating magazine.
I never loved flowers. But in the world of kitchenware, flower-print plates are unbeatable.
I am mad for Victorian plates with patterns of lilac lace, summer rose and pansy chintz.
Maybe my ajumma sense of style developed earlier than natural. Or it may be because some of my closest friends are ceramic artists. I’m certainly not the only one to be puzzled by this ―a male friend didn’t know what to say when I presented him with a lettuce-green teapot for his 25th birthday.
Since I started working, a substantial part of my income has gone into buying plates. I signed up for a mailing list for all my favorite home accessories stores, and when they have a sale, I’m there the moment the doors open. When the Hoam Art Museum was closing down in 2003, I bought three sets of huge plates with paintings by Lee Eung-no at their museum shop for less than 50,000 won. It was one of my proud purchases in years.
By the time I moved out of my parent’s house, I had boxes full of plates and kitchen accessories in storage that I had saved over the years. I brought some of them to my apartment, where I stacked them neatly in my kitchen cupboard until a shelf collapsed, waking me up one night. Luckily nothing was broken, but I figured my cupboard couldn’t handle the weight of my affection for my plates. I brought them back to my parent’s house for storage, kissing good-bye some of my favorite plates, and promising them that my next house would have a bigger kitchen with a stronger cupboard.
The problem is that I hardly get to cook for people these days, mainly because I am just too lazy.
The last time I invited friends over was for a farewell party for colleagues, but I disgraced my precious plates by using them to serve a batch of fried chicken and street ddeokbokgi or spicy rice cakes.
When would I ever use my plates for the fancy meal they deserve?
As if it’s not enough that they had been sleeping in the dark closet all these years, my plates are desperately waiting to carry the right food to the right people. Maybe Christmas will be a good occasion to show off my plates.
How to Cook
Ingredients (for 1 serving): 200g of marinated beef, 300g rice cakes, 4 leaves of lettuce, 1 green pepper, olive oil, 1/2 cup of chicken stock.
For sauce: 3 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon each of sugar, diced green onion, garlic, pepper, sesame seeds and sesame oil.
1. In a bowl, pour all the sauce ingredients.
2. Marinate rice cakes in soy sauce and sesame oil.
3. In a pan, place marinated beef. Stir on low heat. Add chicken stock.
4. Add the sauce and rice cakes. Cook on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Add slices of green pepper. Serve with sprinkles of sesame seeds.
by Park Soo-mee