Friday, 25 October 2013

To dream the impossible dream.

I love food: I dream about food, I am constantly looking up recipes in my free time, perfecting ones that I find and inventing my own. Seriously! I spend so much time thinking about food that at certain points in my life, my mother (and family) have asked me to not talk about it with them. Unfortunately for them, they can't prevent me from THINKING about it!

I do a bible study with some friends around once a month. It's a non-denominational Bible study as we are several different sects of Christianity. A recent passage from the Bible was about the early Christian community and how they behaved and what made them different from other people during that time. Two lines in this passage are about food:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.  
~Acts 2:42,46
It got me thinking, to the chagrin of my family, no doubt (!). Food is such a central part of our lives and that if we could all come together and enjoy food we'd be a lot more peaceful. Think about it. A big huge table, people from all over the world, food from every country and everyone just sitting there talking, learning and sharing. The temples, palaces, churches, sights are a glimpse of the history of a country. The traditional dress, more often than not, shares the same place. Food, however, traverses time itself. Dishes, recipes and methods of cooking are passed down through the aeons and God forbid someone dislike your favourite national dish!

Kimchi and Scrambled egg and kimchi
Korea is no different when it comes to its national food. Kimchi is beloved everywhere by Koreans. However, I have managed to find two students who never eat the stuff. For most foreigners in Korea, you end up on one side or the other on the scale of love and hate. I, on the other hand, lean more towards a mix that combines like and ambivalence. I do like kimchi but I am really picky about what kinds I like. I love the cucumber one and a lettuce kimchi that I had in the spring. It was fresh and had to be eaten right away. I like some white kimchi and some normal kimchi but it really depends on the amount of red pepper paste. Sometimes, one bite and I am done.  I hate, really, really (can not stress enough) hate radish kimchi of any kind. This is a favourite with a lot of teachers in my schools and the lunch ladies are always devastated when I shake my head and say "아니오". My favourite way of having kimchi though is fried on the grill or as Kimchi Fries (the first time I had them my brother made them for me and I since have tried them at two Mexican restaurants in Seoul and they are fantastic).
Kimchi fries from Julio's. So good, I didn't have time
to take a picture before they were almost gone

So, in terms of my dream, I know that there would be food that lots of people dislike and food that everyone raves over (seriously, unless you are lactose intolerant, how could anyone dislike ice cream?). I know some cultures will feel slighted and others delighted. However, at the end of the day, food is much more than just something you eat. When you share food with others, you share yourself. As a culture, when you share your food, you share a part of your soul, a glimpse into the way your culture functions. If it is a traditional food, it tells a story. Food gives us a chance to see the world through other people's eyes: Ask anyone who experienced kimchi for the first time! What was your reaction? What did your co-teachers ask you about it? Was it too spicy? Too peppery? Sweet? Tangy? Disgusting? Whatever it was at that time, it's a talking point. As you are exposed to more regional varieties of a dish, different options open up to you and you discover even more about another culture and country. Food gives you the chance to learn, to experience, to discover. Savour it. I recently posted a question on Facebook to see what my friends think of kimchi. When the results came in, it really was a mixed bag - a few hates, a few loves, people who had particular favourites but disliked other kinds. What was really interesting was seeing who commented. I expected it to be my friends in Korea but quite a number of people were also old friends from Ireland or America. So, not only is kimchi a talking point in Korea but its influence can be felt across the miles! Imagine this times millions of other foods at a World table?

For my Hallowe'en celebrations, I am asking my friends to bring some food with them. Whether it is something savoury or sweet, Western or Korean, it will be something we can savour, share and appreciate together. A project that I am working on is to arrange an actual World potluck here in Jochiwon. Do I think this is an easy project? Heck, no! Especially in Korea it can be hard to find ingredients for certain dishes. Is it one that I consider worthwhile and full of possibility? Most definitely. If I believe that food can open us up to wonderful experiences then I need to practice what I preach. I can't wait to organise this dinner and rest assured, there will be some Kimchi there!

You might think I'm mad to even consider that food is a passage to peace as more than likely we would still end up waging wars over who has the best cuisine and how much such a country's food sucks! There is truth to this, but I think we are much more likely to be too full to do anything of the sort! Nevertheless, I prefer to believe in this impossible dream and hope that by following "my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far" in welcoming everyone to my table to break bread, I do my part "for [that] heavenly cause" of hoping for peace on earth and goodwill to men. 

PS this post is obviously inspired by Kimchi and Bible Study but also by Roger Whittaker's "The Impossible dream".


  1. Um Gurl you love yo food!

    1. I love food! Seriously! Favourite thing ever! Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. Anonymous8/11/13 21:07

    Nada prob babe, just an F to the Y to the I, when it says "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
    They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.'
    ~Acts 2:42,46
    I don't think they are talking about food,

    1. Of course it is not the ONLY thing they are talking about! But eating together as a community was very important to the early Church.

  3. You got it in one there gurrl! :)


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