Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lunch and boba with mom

My mother made a proposition that every other week, we grab lunch and then go have boba to catch up. We already kind of do the lunch thing already anyways. But the “catching up” over boba thing was a whole other gesture that I am far from getting used to. She now wants us to umm *gasp*….TALK. Sure, we talk about general things, like the weather, the yummy things we have eaten lately, her telling me get rid of my food belly, etc. But now she said she needs us to really talk. She wants me to share about the things that are going on in my life and vice versa. So far, this hasn’t really been flying with me because I am a pretty private person and my personal, private business is my own private business. She asked me to start opening up about the things in my life that stress me out, my plans for the future, what is new in my life, and so on. Like, she wants to know EVERYTHING.

Maybe one of the reasons I avoid having “real talks” is because of the mere fact that I just can’t handle reality sometimes. I am guilty of choosing to escape certain matters by not talking or even thinking about it. I fear the unknown discoveries that could be made by opening up too much. I know as I start to have these regular “real talks” with my mom, eventually, a day will come when something one of us shares is going to be about something dreadful. It’s an inevitable part of life. I am dreading the day that a parent is going to have something to say, and that something is something tragic like that one of them doesn’t have much to live or is starting to suffer from a dementia or something heartbreaking like that. Every child will go through it with an aging parent sooner or later. That’s life. My parents are not super old, but they are definitely past their prime. Each passing day nears the dreaded day.
I don’t want to open up too much about my private life to my mom either. I think I tell my mom just enough of what she needs to know. There is no need for her to know EVERYTHING. She’s not going to make me spill my guts, no matter how she tries lol. But I feel her trying.

This week, our lunch date was at La Travolata, a place I visit every few months or so. It is one of the few decent places in the area that is also nonpricy. I first came here a few years ago when I was in the mood for pasta. There are not too many options around town. I yelped to find many good reviews on this place. I was pleased with the first visit and kept coming back. The first item that I’ve ever tried here was Papardelle Vodka and a bite of some fish special that a friend had. That was the only time I came here for dinner. The other times were for lunch or pick up. This was pre-yelping and blogging.

Monday, July 27, 2015

From the border to the kitchen - A Chef's Story

In the professional kitchen, you are likely to come across individuals from all walks of life. Everyone has a story. There is the former felon who found his calling while being locked up in prison. There is that annoying, inexperienced, know-it-all culinary extern that thinks he’s the next Iron Chef. There is that law school drop-out who decided that studying law was no longer of his/her interest. And cooking just seemed more exciting, so there they are. There is the aspiring restaurateur who is there to learn the ropes of the trade. There is that third or fourth generation chef that was just born into the business and knows of nothing else. Then there are the survivors who, through the kitchen, are given a chance. 
 
Walk into any random kitchen in America and you will find that it’s the survivors that are running the show. A typical survivor has a far different story than your average middle class culinary school grad chef that has racked up thousands in student loans because he/she was fueled with passion to enter the kitchen. The survivor usually ends up in the kitchen because that was often times the only option.
 
Meet Efrain Ventura, a survivor that prevailed over gruesome obstacles to rise above.
Listening to Efrain’s stories has inspired me to share an inside look into an example of what a survivor has endured and overcome, and the role that the kitchen has played in their survival. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jjimjilbang Virgin

The weather has been dreadfully hot lately. I HATE summer (as if you didn’t already know)! I hate the heat waves. I hate not being able to sleep at night because it’s too hot. I hate the loss of appetite I feel due to the heat. I hate going outside and being unbearably defeated by the heat. I hate stepping into my car and finding the steering wheel too hot. I hate getting all grumpy because it's too hot. Yeah, I hate summer. Well, okay. I hate summer in socali. Maybe if I was living somewhere else that wasn't as hot, it wouldn’t be as bad. I am so ready for summer to be over and done with so that we can welcome fall. I love fall.

Suffering from the heat made me kind of curious about the igloo rooms at jjimjilbangs (Korean spa/bathhouse). From what I’ve seen on Kdramas, it basically looks like an ice room that you go into to just chill and cool down. I have been trying to muster up the courage to go to a jjimjilbang. I am probably the only Korean that hasn’t been to one. I just haven’t really been too interested until recently.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Saying Grace

For me, giving thanks for the meal about to be eaten has been a ritual since I can remember. Growing up, I learned to be thankful for each meal I was about to inhale. Each meal was a blessing from God and deserved a moment of gratitude. I first learned to say grace in Sunday school, back when I was in Kindergarten.

Shame on me, but these days, I have been horrible with saying grace each and every time. When I do, it is usually when certain company is present, -certain family members and/or church acquaintances.

The other day, I was at a restaurant. I had a mad craving for kalguksu (kal: knife, guksu: noodles). I stopped by Myung Dong in Anaheim, CA to satisfy the craving.
 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

6-25 (yuk-yi-o AKA the Korean War) ramblings

In remembering the upcoming anniversary of 6-25, referred to as yuk-yi-o (June 25th   when the Korean War started in 1950), I’ve decided to share my story on how the war had shaped my family’s lives. Oh yeah and how the war gave birth to one of my favorite dishes, the budaejjigae (army based soup). Watch Anthony Bourdain loving some budaejjigae. He eats so deliciously.

Budae=army base
Jjigae=stew