Kimchimari author - JinJoo

Kimchimari author – JinJoo

It’s hard to believe that it has already been 20+ years since I left Korea to make a home in the US. In those twenty some years, I have gone from a Computer Science grad student and a new mom (got married, had a baby and got my PhD degree all in the span of a few years – with a lot of help from my husband, of course), to a full-time software engineer and a part-time mom (this was a very trying time which ended with me getting very sick ) and then to a part-time tele-commuting project manager and an almost full-time mom (enjoyed this period a lot with lots of freedom since I worked at home). Now with my only daughter off to college and my health in a better state, I now again have the luxury of being able to pursue whatever I want- full-time, of course with my husband’s support (need to make sure he gets proper acknowledgement here ;) ). And so I am once again faced with the question of “What do I want to do with my life?” or at my age, it’s probably more a question of “What do I want to do with all this time I have?”

Of course, there are professional interests and goals that I have but I won’t bore you with those. And then there are many other things that I should do – clean out the garage, get new window treatments for our bedroom (the temporary paper blinds are still hanging strong after 3 years! It’s not going to be pretty when we take it off!!), sort out the closet, the list goes on and on.. But as a mom, I realized that my job is not done yet. There are still so many things that I didn’t get to teach my daughter before she left home-especially about Korean food- not just about cooking, but about the ingredients, about how different foods affect your health and about everything else that you just cannot learn from a book. And with the recent discovery that both my daughter and I are very sensitive to gluten, cooking at home has become even more important. We both tested negative for Celiac disease but we just know that if we keep eating gluten, it eventually starts to upset our bodies in many ways. We kind of lucked out in that sense because many Korean foods are actually gluten free- another reason why I need to teach her about cooking Korean!

But this Korean Food at Home blog is not just for her. It’s also for me- because it’s about what I always loved doing. I always had a passion for good food and I find great joy in cooking, eating and sharing them.  Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen –not because I had to help out but because I just loved eating (yes, I was a bit overweight growing up). Actually,  my whole family loved to eat and even though we had maids (labor was really cheap in Korea many years ago), when our family wanted to celebrate or enjoy a fun time together, we all gathered in the kitchen and cooked our special recipes. Being the youngest of five children, I spent a lot of time watching and learning how the wonderful dishes were made by my dad and my sisters (sometimes also my mom and brother :) ). I loved watching them cook because I knew if I learned it well enough, I could make it for myself anytime-just the way I wanted.

I also loved to experiment with different food pairings even as a kid. I am a firm believer that pairing foods is just as important as cooking. One of my favorite pairings (my sisters and brother always called me crazy and strange when I ate these together!) was to eat apple pie and salami together. Another great pairing is the Korean yakwa and salami. You see the trend.. Yes, salami was and still is my ultimate favorite! And I’m sure you have tasted the savory and sweet pairing that has become more popular these days. Pairing brie cheese with fig preserves or prosciutto with honey dew melon are all based on similar concepts. I think I was just ahead of my time..

Besides my family, I have also been deeply influenced by many great ahjooma (Korean word for older married women) cooks I’ve met here in the states. I hope to post their recipes somehow. I know so many wonderful cooks and mothers around me who may not get to share their tidbits with their children due to language barriers or other issues. So, I guess, in a broader sense, I hope to make this blog a place for our children who want to cook and eat Korean food at home as well as for anyone else who might be interested in learning and sharing about real Korean food-sometimes in a simplified way compared to the ways of our mothers, but still very traditional and totally Korean.

Happy cooking and eating everyone!

Update -

You may have already read my posts on moving to Korea but just in case.. In early June 2012, my husband and I moved to Seoul. I am still blogging about Korean food and also plan to learn more and experience as much as I can about Korean food while I am here. It’s been about 5 months already and I am finding that Korean food has changed so much (almost too much in my opinion) in the last 20 years. Perhaps it’s a global trend…I feel I must taste and learn all that I can before the traditional ways are totally lost.

Is it just me? But I feel with the exposure of foreign ingredients and tastes, the tastes are becoming all muted..I have visited very few restaurants (other than the ones that have been famous for 20+ years) that was so good I had to return.