Good ribs and goodbyes from a seat in the kitchenIt’s Sunday night past 9 p.m., and I’m writing my last food column on my dining table with a fistful of Honey Comfort cream plastered over my face.
It’s an artful coincidence that I am writing my last column right at this moment “in the kitchen.” But it just occurred to me that this could be an aesthetic excuse for someone who’s been writing a food column for the past two years. Indeed, it must be. I do use my dining table for both eating and writing.
Why? Because I admire the idea of putting eating and writing in the same category of activity.
Okay. There goes my last artful disguise for this column.
To tell you the truth, I never got around to finding the right desk to fit the size of my room. Adding to that, the food, people and incidents in my column were never as involving to me as they might have seemed to readers. I barely tried half of the recipes I wrote for this column in my own kitchen. In fact, I barely cook these days.
Writing a column was more difficult than I thought it would be. I could probably go on for hours about things that don’t matter in my life, such as taxing Korean clergymen or the crocodile-eating rock snake in Myanmar. But it was difficult to present an honest expression of my personal experiences as I did in this column, and so I used food as an excuse. I often found myself overstating or censoring my writing due to fear of over-exposing myself or of hurting others.
There was one occasion in which my father refused to talk to me for a week because of a column I wrote concerning my family history.
If I were a brave writer, I would have found a clever way to get across my point without making those mistakes. But if I’m a conscious writer, at least I wouldn’t make those mistakes again.
I learned about the importance of making decisions and the shame that follows for projecting personal views in one’s writing. I learned about the ethics of overstatement. I learned about learning.
The experience has taught me an important lesson: That it is just as hard to write with confidence and honesty as it is to live with those values.
As a learning case, I recently found that the court’s definition of “perjury” is not about giving testimony that contradicts the facts; it’s giving testimony that contradicts one’s own memory.
Under writer’s law, I wonder whether we could call a person a truly good writer when her writings contradict her memory. Perhaps these are the issues of writing the way we live.
My last recipe for you is galbi, or barbecued ribs. It was my very first recipe when I started this column.
In the end, life is an evolution. You end at where you begin.
Eat well, and good luck to you all.
How to Cook
Ingredients: 4 lbs. beef short ribs, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup water, four teaspoons of crushed pears, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of rice wine (Cheongju), 1/4 cup beef broth, 3 garlic cloves, 4 teaspoons of crushed onion, 4 teaspoons of sesame oil, black pepper, sesame seeds.
1. Soak the ribs in cold water for about an hour to get rid of the blood.
2. Cut the fat off the ribs. With the meaty side down, gently cut the meat crosswise, into a thin spread.
3. Mix the ingredients and marinate ribs overnight.
4. Grill on a pan or a grill, cut into bite-size pieces and serve. Good served with gochujang (red pepper paste) and wrapped in lettuce leaves.
by Park Soo-mee