Nightmares drowned with cold, clammy noodlesIt’s been a tough weekend for my friend Daisy.
Yesterday morning, she called me drenched in tears after waking up from a nightmare in which an old high school friend was binding and squeezing her in rope. She woke up in the middle of the night, she told me, right as her friend was leaving the house in her dream, setting it on fire as he recorded her torment with a video camera.
I was half asleep, but I pretended to nod in sympathy.
I had a sense of what this was all about. Her nightmare capped a bad day.
It all began with a glass of lukewarm water on a lukewarm date she had with a man who refused to eat dinner with a woman on his first blind date. It used to be common on formal dates when my parents were young, and apparently is still practiced by some men of my generation.
I could almost picture my friend, sipping a glass of grapefruit juice trying to cope with conversation as dry as a desert, but not as interesting.
It was probably the food that had gone to her head. A good date with bad food is not in the Wikipedia of love.
Food was her obsession. During our freshmen year at art school, her installations were huge displays of hundreds of unwashed plates and cutlery from dinners she had organized for friends.
Each plate in her installation was labeled with the food, date and place where the dinner took place, as well as with the name of the guest.
That was 10 years ago.
Perhaps she knew the date would be dreadful.
On her way to their first meeting, she got a puzzling phone call from his mother in an elevator. She said her son had just called, because the cafe where he was supposed to meet his date in the evening was under construction.
Her son’s phone battery was running out, she told my friend, she said, but with just enough power leff to call his mother and ask her to call my friend’s number to pass on the urgent message, if that whole situation makes any sense at all.
Whatever it was, it was a trying experience for my friend.
On her way home, she called me from a taxi for a drink, while I was in a hospital mortuary for a funeral of my former colleague’s mother.
We didn’t have a drink, but we met for an early breakfast the next day at an empty restaurant that sold cold noodles near her home. It was an unsual starter for Sunday brunch.
When the food arrived, she sprayed a blob of mustard in it and drank the soup in one gulp. It was as if she were trying to cleanse away the winter dust, even though it was too early for spring.
It was just a bowl of noodles, but it drowned the horror. By the time we left the restaurant, I knew she would be okay.
How to Cook
Ingredients (4 servings): 600 grams naengmyeon, 200g beef brisket, 1/2 cucumber, 200g of radish kimchi, 1/2 pear, 2 boiled eggs, 10 cups of beef broth, 1 teaspoon of chestnuts. For the sauce: red pepper, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, pepper, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce.
1. Wash the brisket thoroughly. Cook the meat in a pot
of water for an hour. Let broth cool, and add the
2. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil. Add the
naengmyeong strings. When the noodles soften,
drain and rinse in cold water.
3. Place the noodles in the center of a bowl.
4. Place the radish kimchi, sliced pears, sliced cucum
bers and egg half over the noodles. Pour on cooled
5. Sprinkle chestnuts over the dish.
6. Serve with vinegar and mustard.
by Park Soo-mee