This Saturday, I will venture out and share my love of Korean food with my friends by hosting a Korean banchan theme potluck barbeque.
Let’s start with this. I am a first generation Korean American. Technically, I am what you would call a 1.5 generation Korean American. I was not born here. I am an outsider. Not really American. Not really Korean. By that I mean this.
I grew up in a pretty conservative Korean household. We practiced piano, and we brought home good grades (anything less than a B was considered an ‘Asian F’ in grades). We ate primarily Korean food. We did always had extended family living with us. I was fortunate enough to be raised by grandparents and uncles and aunties. Spending a great deal of time surrounded by cousins.
I was also a loud child. Energetic and curious. Outspoken, emotional and I always felt the odd girl out. When I moved away from my family, I shut the door on my Korean heritage and embraced the American culture.
Which didn’t quite work for me either. Like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears story, I didn’t quite fit into American culture either.
I spent a good deal of my 20’s and 30’s avoiding my culture and being ignorant to the history that I had stored up inside me.
And then I had a child. Becoming a parent catapults you into facing some harsh ugliness about yourself. It also teaches you how to be compassionate, loving and letting go of bad habits. I learned to lean on my family and make peace with the side that I fought within.
Raising a child who was mixed race brings a lot of conversation into the picture. I wanted to show One way that I did this was by going back to Korean cooking.
Banchan, is by nature, Korean side dishes. They are the little dishes that are eaten with every Korean meal. Not really appetizers and not really full on meals, they are to be accompanied with meals. Just like kimchee is inherently very Korean. Banchan is fundamental to Korean eating.
So what spurned this new phase of my ‘Korean identity’ to another level. Why did I level up?
Part of this was due to my struggling to find foods that I could eat while recovering from fatty liver disease and to really understood what I need to do to owning my life. Healthy eating meant taking a hard look at what was not working in my life and reinventing myself.
My American husband, who always loved Korean food, helped me see the positive side to food health. Food is medicine. It is the natural course to recovery…..if you own it and embrace it. So I jumped in. Fully embraced what was always there.
Somewhere along the journey, I started to remember what I was longing all along. Family. Peace. Contentment. Korean food, in particular, vegetarian cuisine helped me find the path.
My goal is now to create a space where I can discover and explore Korean cuisine that I fondly remember and share with my friends. I figure by having a quarterly cooking class, I can share my love of Korean food with my friends.