What home means to me:
I was reading an article about what home cooking means to immigrants… In America, when you go to a restaurant and it says home cooking, it usually means mashed potatoes, chicken noodle soup, pie, roast beef, etc.
And that got me thinking, what is home-cooking to me? Because I had never even heard of chicken-fried steak and meatloaf until I was in elementary school.
I think to most Korean immigrants, home cooking is mostly traditional Korean food and rice. When I think of my grandmother’s cooking, that’s what I think of, too. However, my mom loves to cook all different kinds of cuisine. She cooks whatever she feels like which is sometimes tomato-basil soup and sometimes its Korean banchan. It’s not a rare day in the Kim household to have clam chowder for breakfast, sushi hand rolls for lunch, and then, kimchi stew, grilled Korean ribs, rice, etc. for dinner. My mom will make excellent pad thai occasionally, fajitas on a day when there’s leftover beef and bell peppers in the fridge, and prime rib on special occasions. But I would still say that most of the time, when she’s tired and not feeling too adventurous, I can rely on her 된장찌개 and 갈비찜 to be excellent. It’s not weird in our house to have rice in the cooker and baguettes in the oven simultaneously.
It never occurred to me that this was strange until I went to Hong Kong and talked more to people who had grown up in Asia and asked me about growing up in America. A lot of people asked me what I ate at home most of the time, and I usually answered “Korean food” but I realized that this wasn’t necessarily true. I think the right answer would be American food. Because American food to me is Korean food, Thai food, Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, and of course, true-blue American staples like mashed potatoes, soups, turkey, and hamburgers. Then, they would ask me what Americans ate at home usually, and that was a bit more difficult to answer. By American, do you mean European-American? African-American? Chinese-American? What do you mean by American? I think they would be satisfied if I said all Amercians eat only pizza, hamburgers, and hotdogs at home.
Home cooking is changing a lot in America. When I read food blogs and watch cooking shows on the telly, a lot of chefs in America are being more inspired by Asia as well as Europe. There are more people experimenting with chili sauces, fish sauces, ginger, curry powder, and fermented vegetables. Kids these days are lucky. They grow up with a more international palate than kids my age growing up had. Most of my friends in high school only ate what was ethnically traditional for their families at home. And I’m not even that old! I think I’m still a kid.
I guess I’ve been extremely lucky. Our generation is now becoming adults so we’re conscious of the change happening but still young enough to adjust easily and make the assimilation. Or rather, we are the ones stimulating the change. Diversity, globalization, international, these are the words of our generation. Pretty awesome dudes.
Such thoughts from someone still jetlagged.
Basically the point is:
I love my mom.
Any favorite dishes you consider home cooking?