Special opportunity for San Francisco Bay area Kimchi Mamas! Looks like Shin-Soo Choo is coming to town with the Cleveland Indians, and there will be some special entertainment and giveaways. Jomama and Mary Choi have already booked their tickets--hope some more of you might join us!
To purchase tickets, click this link. Between Shin-Soo and the Giants, I'm not sure which team I'll be rooting for! (And yes, the Cleveland Indians cartoon logo of a Native American does make me cringe)
Some of the proceeds will be supporting local Korean groups, like AKASF (which I have recently joined, but not yet had the pleasure of meeting), KAPS, Korean Center, and other community groups serving Korean populations in the Bay Area.
Marja Vongerichten, wife of three-star Michelin chef Jean-George Vongerichten, has created a series that seems tailor-made for us Kimchi Mamas. Part travelogue, part documentary of self-discovery, part cooking show, "Kimchi Chronicles" takes the Vongerichtens around Korea, highlighting all the different dishes and culinary traditions, then interpreting them for the home kitchen with the help of...Hugh Jackman. Here is a clip of Marja introducing the rest of the gang to what looks like 육개장 (yukgaejang).
An extra-long preview of the series can be seen on the New York Times site. There, you will be bombarded with image after image of HD deliciousness...I can't watch it without drooling!
Marja will also be publishing a cookbook in August, and it's already up for preorders on Amazon. Just think about it: authentic Korean recipes adapted for the western home kitchen, written in English, from a Michelin-star family...I can't wait to get my hands on it! Here are some pics:
The show will make its nationwide debut in July, but it is currently running in New York (you lucky bums). If you have seen it, please let us know what you thought below! How's the cinematography? Does it accurately portray Korea and Koreans? How much does Marja's personal life story come into play? Is it food porn, and/or Hugh porn? Enquiring minds would like to know!
PS: Later this summer when they are released, we will be giving away DVD sets of the series as well as the cookbook, so stay tuned!!!
PPS: All throughout writing this, I kept misspelling "Hugh Jackman" as "Huge Jackman." Freudian much?
I've learned a great many things living in the motherland. Mostly by just listening and watching. I do it a lot more here than I did back home in the states. At home, everything is so familiar I think I just go go go. But here, even with all the Korean drama watching, there's so much that's new and foreign. So I like to just hang back and watch. I watch to see how people interact, how they react and how they go about daily life because often times it's with a twist from what I expect. At first it was easy to point and say the way we do things at home are better. But soon I could see that the way they do things here, works here and could teach me a thing or two.
I guess you can't say I'm completely immersed and away from all things familiar here because I am here with the American military. I have access to an Army post with all the trappings. Several times a day, I travel between a little America and the Korea outside the barbed wired walls that surround it. Inside, I can buy Organic Valley butter and Jet Puffed Marshmallows, and then outside I can get fifty kinds of korean yogurt drinks the kids are slowly growing addicted to. During the day, my son attends the Department of Defense school on post along with a lot of other military and government worker children.
We could have lived on post too, but we chose to live off post because we wanted to take advantage of living in actual Korea as much as possible. It was more painful at first. We had to learn to throw away our garbage properly (so complicated!) and the houses offered on base are just set up in a more familiar and therefore more cozy layout. But, I think we've grown accustomed and we are now reaping the benefits.
One such benefit is making friends with families who know a lot about Korea who live in our building. It's been a little more difficult to make make actual Korean KOREAN friends, but there are a significant number of families where there is an American father and native Korean mother. They have, who I'm used to calling, "hapa" children. Because these hapa children have lived in Korea most, if not all, of their lives, their Korean is often fluent. If they don't attend the American school yet, it's usually better than their English skills. I'm just so used to seeing Hapa children in America, that it's been eye opening to see them here.
After a few months, I started to pick up on a word these mothers married to non-Korean husbands would use among themselves when talking about their children or other children mixed racially like their own. They would use the word "Honyol." It kind of shocked me at first because the only contact I'd had with the word was in the book Ten Thousand Sorrow by Elizabeth Kim. In her story, she'd stated that it was a derogatory word to call a Korean person who was racially mixed with another ethnicity. In other words, that it was an insult. But here were loving mothers, standing around, using the words to refer to their bright beautiful children. Interesting.
After listening to them for several weeks, I finally asked outright if Honyol was the word for mixed children in Korean. They all agreed. I told them about my word "hapa." They said the difference is that "Honyol means always Korean mixed with something. It's how Koreans tell that the children have Korean blood in them." I asked them about negative connotations that went with the word. They agreed that there were some, especially in the past. But, that attitudes were changing and people were more accepting...that it wasn't the word, but how someone used the word to express themselves. If someone were to spit out the word in a hateful statement during a fight with their child, then it would be used in a bad way. But facts were facts. Their children were mixed and there was no hiding it in such a homogeneous society. Their children are Honyol. It is now a common word to describe their children. Korea is slowly starting to come to realize that there is not only one "kind" of people.
At first it was hard to use the word. All this time I'd thought it was a bad word, and now I was using it to describe precious children in conversation. But the more I thought about it, the more I think those moms were right. It's not the word. It's how it's used. At least that's what people have decided to do here. Watching them talk about their children lately though, I wondered, could we use this word for our children in America? I may not have had Honyol children myself but I expect Honyol grandchildren someday and I am hoping for Honyol nieces and/or nephews soon. Will this word have traveled over by then?
- jooliyah who always grew up thinking she'd marry someone to make Honyol children with, but had to abandon such thoughts when a hot Korean American swimmer dude ended up becoming her best friend.
Kimchi Mamas are featured in The Korea Times - a newspaper for Koreans living in America! The whole thing was printed in Korean so I translated it for you below. Two awesome Kimchi Mamas, Julie and Stefania are pictured and some others are mentioned. Yay! I'm not a professional translator or anything but I'm pretty sure it'll be better than Google Translate.
"Ajumma Power" Lets Korea Be Known
Online consortium of Korean Women, Kimchi Mamas Power Bloggers
Julie Kang's popularity soars, leading discussions on mainstream media and Korean articles.
Kimchi Mamas power blogger, highly popular Julie Kang.
There is a power blog featuring Korean culture and food. An online consortium of Korean women bloggers who raise Korean American kids voice their opinions on Kimchi Mamas. The most active Kimchi Mama among them is Julie Kang of Geisha School Dropout.
I have a hard heart when it comes to reality television, but even I couldn't stop the tears from flowing when I watched this:
Orphaned at the age of three and left to fend for himself starting from the age of FIVE, Sung-Bong Choi sold gum and Bacchus drinks on the street to survive. He did not attend school until high school, and during his many nights wandering alone through the city, he listened in on vocal lessons to learn how to sing.
I hesitate to call him Korea's Susan Boyle, not because of any lack of talent, but because there is too much tragedy staining the transcendence. In his pre-performance interview, Mr. Choi stated he entered this competition so he could be normal like other people, not famous or rich or notorious. I find that very telling of his strong character, and since he had been let down in such a profound way by his government and fellow citizenry, I hope his appearance on this show will at least cement a sure and stable future for him, never lacking in comfort or company.
This Memorial Day weekend, I, along with many other parents, took my kids to see "Kung Fu Panda 2." It feels strange to say this, but I really enjoyed seeing what all the characters were up to, as if I were revisiting old friends. The movie delved deeper into Po the panda's personal history, and although the expected visual and verbal gags kept the audience giggling, the film also touches on some real-life themes in surprisingly thoughtful ways: adoption, "man" vs. machine, reconciling the past with the present and future, and redemption.
As the movie ended, I was very curious to see who intertwined the childish comedy with the deeper, more sober issues with such a light, masterful touch. And when the director's name appeared on the screen, my mouth dropped. First of all, she was a woman. Second of all, she could very well be Korean!
From this LA times article, I learned that Jennifer Yuh Nelson actually grew up in Lakewood, CA, minutes away from where I grew up, and not surprisingly, received encouragement and guidance from her own Kimchi Mama from a very young age:
As a young girl, she would sit at the kitchen table for hours and watch her mother draw, copying her every stroke. Nelson traces the lineage of her career to those formative family experiences.
I also really enjoyed reading how she learned to come into her own as a naturally soft-spoken person in a position that usually is defined by auteur angst:
"I'm a very soft-spoken person. I don't throw furniture. I don't throw tantrums," Nelson said. "As a director, your job is to protect this movie with your life. Protect it against anything that would take it off its course and turn it beige. You have to be very, very ferocious and that was the hardest part for me because I'm not used to yelling."
And perhaps the most glowing testimonial comes from the CEO of Dreamworks himself, Jeffrey Katzenberg:
"What I always find so amazing about Jennifer is that inside this beautiful, soulful, soft-spoken, elegant lady is this macho, kung fu-loving action dynamo," Katzenberg said. "It's the opposite of what we're all used to dealing with in the world, the macho exterior and marshmallow center. There is very much a cult following that she has among our artists. They all want to work with her."
Well, I'm not an artist, but definitely count me in as a cult member. I'm so inspired! Ms. Yuh Nelson, you rock!!!