kimchi chronicles

24 Oct

one of my favorite things in life is food. i think this comes from my mother’s love (and weird guilt) for food. as a korean immigrant she would spend much more time trying to recreate the dishes of her country than it would take to make the average american meal.

so growing up there was always a jar of kimchi in the fridge as well as several tiny containers filled with ban chan (side dishes).

but as a child in the midwest, going to a primarily all white catholic school i was the only korean in the whole school. i longed for lunches of white bread and a piece of meat. instead i often got gim bap (korean version of a maki roll) or leftover rice with kimchi. these are pretty common meals for children of korea at school, not so much in the early 90’s at a small conservative catholic school.

i ignored my culture for a long time,  not embracing it enough and often hiding behind my less-than asian features and lack of the language.

these days, i adore it. i pour over cookbooks and blogs, trying to recreate the dishes of my childhood and my mother’s home. i can’t get enough of it.

so imagine my surprise when PBS comes out with a new cooking/travel show called The Kimchi Chronicles. It’s a short 30 minute show that airs weekly.  The hosts are Marja Vongerichten and her husband JG Vongerichten (who owns several popular restaurants in NY and is head chef of them as well). Marja was born in Korea to a Korean woman and an African American man. Her father took off when her mother was pregnant leaving her unsure of her life before her. Marja was given up for adoption around the age of 3 and adopted by an American family and raised in the States. Sometime in her 20’s she found her birth mother and they rekindled their relationship. Her and her mother have been cooking up a storm ever since.

like myself, it seems like Marja connects to her culture through food. half of the episode is dedicated to traveling around Korea and showing off the delicacies of different geographical areas.

it’s a pretty awesome show, sometimes Hugh Jackman (their neighbor in NY) comes down and does a cooking segment with them. the recipes they cook are authentic and new.

here are some of the awesome food items you can find recipes for in their cookbook, Kimchi Chronicles:

Bulgogi, cooked over fire. Very popular dish in the US.

Gim bap, common korean snack

kimchi jigae, literally kimchi stew. good for cold days.

i’m glad that korean food is being introduced to american’s, even with all of it’s fire.


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