You know, a couple of things. Some events and thoughts from the world come all at the same time. Wonder Twin Boy was chatting with me, telling me he is part of of the Asian kids and the non-Asian ids. For the Asian kids, he finds it interesting because his friends are all part of Asian households, whereas ours really isn’t. I asked him he missed that, he says he doesn’t, but it’s was an interesting observation for me to chew on.
And a few days, my friend Nancy was asking if ate Korean food at home. We don’t. We don’t even eat Chinese food, which I thought was pretty ubiquitous in every hood. The fact is everyone is vegetarian at home and I only know about meat dishes, and I don’t cook Korean food. I eat it at other people’s homes and restaurants — and I love it. Last week, I went to MOMA with my emo, mom, and emo-boo and we grabbed lunch after. I had my own dish — mandoo guy, a dumpling soup with beef broth and rice cakes because I was feeling a little under the weather. My emo and mom were shoving little additional servings from their dishes – mega spicy Kim chi soon doo boo jig, which I had called “primordial broth” in one of my shows, portraying it as something grows and mysterious. But today, you know, I chow down on all of it. I thoroughly enjoyed the banchan of three kids of kimchi, the pickled root veggies, the crunchy sweet fried anchovies. We got some extras b/c my emo is a regular, and b/c we are Korean (I wouldn’t get this treatment without them, but I was with Korean-speaking Koreans, so boom). They gave us jap chae as an additional free app, and rice soup after (like the warm water you boil in the rice cooker after the rice is gone; so it’s like the rice crust floating in warm water. I totally gobbled this up as a kid, but it’s not necessarily a “nice” dish to serve in a restaurant and I laughed with my mom that Americans would be like WTH is this.) and a cinnamon pine nut cool drink. It was typical and spice and I enjoyed it so much.
So parts of me are mega- or kinda-korean! If I miss my dad, I can go get Korean food. When I have to miss my mom one day, I can also go get food. It reminds me of years of childhood. But funny enough, I have had zero thought about passing this on to my own own children. Part of its I’m content enjoying things distinctly from my nuclear family, but I don’t feel this like obligation or instinct to keep my culture alive. I was talking about the family culture with Husband, which is a great deal of theater and theater history. Ice Cream Mondays — we have ice cream every Monday, something I came up with out of desertion when the ice cream trucks came by relentlessly.
I’ve had more Asians and non-Asians wish me happy new year this year (on lunar new year) than I ever have. And Asian families do celebrate lunar new year, but not us? And when my friend asked me about food, I stopped and wondered, am I dropping the ball? like why doesn’t it even occur to me to do this stuff with the kids?
Part of it is the influence of my parents. Even though they were immigrants (and technically, so was I), they didn’t seem overly attached to Korean culture. I can say to people I’m unconventional — my personality has confused a lot of people I work with, both Asians and non-Asians. But I didn’t come out of a vacuum. On some level, my parents were both unconventional. My mom’s priority with me was academics, that’s it. As she told her neighbor, she forced me to study and made me go to Yale. (She’s nuts.) And with that much influence, she could have also easily gotten me to study Korean. We tried a few times and it just wasn’t that important to my parents on some level. We never celebrated the lunar new year or Korean Thanksgiving. It’s just, they were practical and had to make the dough to keep our household afloat. However, it’s not just life that bumped this as a priority. On some level, Korean culture and language were not a priority for how they raised me, which I find very interesting. Do you know how many years I felt guilty about not speaking Korean?
I will say though food is mega important to them and they really couldn’t live somewhere without access to Korean food (although, even that, they could ditch.)
For what it’s worth, I’m going to get the Vegan Korean cookbook from the library. Husband has agreed to help me prepare the recipes for the kids, in case the food is something that they could get into, as something they might go for to remind them of being young, of me..when ONE DAY I’M DEAD AND GONE AHA HA HA AH AHAHA
(I mean, I can already tell you the things that they will remember of me will be like how I excel at bungling a punch line, how much I love them and how much I hate their enemies, and all my jokes).