Mr. Kim and I live in the northern part of the United States now; we’ve both previously lived in the South, in southern parts of Texas, and, of course, in Korea. I’ve also spent time living in England, and Mr. Kim’s time in China totals two years or so. All these places are close to our hearts, and we bring our experiences with us to the table.
Actually, unlike the stereotypical Mr. Kim, my Mr. Kim doesn’t mind cooking at all and, in the time since he decided to start really learning, has become quite good at it. He usually cooks breakfast and dinner on the days I work (oh yeah, I got a job!)–three days a week–and I usually cook meals on the other days, making enough leftovers for our lunches. Between us, we manage to keep our meals pretty multicultural and reflective of the places that have shaped us. Last night, we had leftover enchiladas I made Sunday from my mother’s recipe; tomorrow night, at my request, Mr. Kim is planning to make stir-fried pork belly in doenjang (된장). Last Thursday, though, I happened to take photos of each of our meals, so I thought I’d post it as an example of how we eat in our culturally amalgamated household.
It was a non-work day for me, so I made a breakfast straight out of my Southern heritage: Biscuits and gravy. We didn’t have any sausage, so it wasn’t sausage gravy, but I mean really, bacon gravy can’t be much worse, right? It was actually amazingly delicious. Mr. Kim loves gravy, and I had been wanting to make this for him for a while, so I was really gratified when I had to pretend to prefer to eat my last biscuit with maple syrup instead because (I could tell) he wanted the rest of the gravy.
Mr. Kim made lunch. He loves jeon (전, savory korean-style pancakes or really basically anything lightly battered and panfried), and even though I am the household queen of the kimchijeon/pajeon style–his fell apart the one time he tried–he makes some mean zucchini jeon! He also made doenjang stew (된장찌개). Although I wasn’t super open to doenjang when I first encountered it many years ago, it’s now one of my favorite things ever, and when Mr. Kim opens up mealtimes to requests from me, doenjang is almost always involved. By the way, Mr. Kim actually gets most of his recipes from an English-language cookbook by Maangchi. It’s a beautiful book, good for people living in America who maybe can’t find the exact same ingredients as in Korea, and the food has been great so far!
I did dinner. This is a dish I first made when I lived in England, based on this recipe. The kitchen in my dorm had wonderful and powerful appliances, including ovens, which I used with great pleasure after so many years in Korea, where ovens are rare and usually not great. Roasts (especially Sunday roasts) are a big thing in the UK, and with access to good ovens, I started roasting almost everything. In this dish, you blend together butter, garlic, chili powder, and cumin (and optionally cilantro), then stuff most of it under the skin of the chicken or inside (and I put some on top too, though it looks like it mostly burned). The original recipe has carrots roasted with the chicken, but on this day, I decided to use potatoes we had gotten from the farmer’s market.
We had also gotten half a peck (a peck is a thing!) of Honeycrisp apples, the most delicious apples, at the farmer’s market, and the kitchen was the warmest room in the house on this chilly day, so I decided to make an apple pie, straight out of Joy of Cooking. Yum yum yum!
Lest anyone worry about our waistlines or think we are using Hermione’s Time-Turner to find enough hours to do all this cooking, I want to point out that the food pictured here made up more than just three meals. The apple pie was our breakfast for the next two days, the chicken and potatoes our dinner next night, and the jjigae (the stew) actually leftovers from the day before and had already made two meals for Mr. Kim and one for me. Plus, we are usually really good at balancing our different types of work and keeping in mind when the other needs to be able to focus on a project instead of cooking. Our multicultural mealtimes are just a delicious byproduct of our backgrounds and our consideration for each other.