My First Kim-Chi

Kimchi is the most famous korean food. It takes a role for Korea what Scotch did for Scotland, and what pizza did for Italy. Next to boiled rice(bab), kimchi is the most important component of a Korean meal. It is spicy and fiery, yet earthy and cool.

I realize I haven’t really told about myself as I’m slow (or is it a habit) to complete this website design. I’m 24 years old who shares same birthday as George Washington, currently working for U.S. Dept. of Agriculture as IT specialist. If you think the title is a bit vague, that’s because I do different things around here—from working on a website to making some SQL queries in databases for those managers who want some statistics. As for my own identity, I was born deaf in Korea and obviously, that made me Korean. However, I was adopted at age three by deaf parents—Wayne and Pam. That would make me Korean-American but there’s something wrong with this picture—I was never raised as a Korean-American but as an American solely. I’ve never heard of a Kim-Chi (a very popular spicy side dish in Korea or in other words, you’re not Korean till you eat one) till I was about 18 years old. My very first meal when I got here in America was a happy meal at McDonald’s. I’m dead serious and not kidding you.

A few hundred happy meals, big macs, and quarter-pound cheeseburgers later, I’ve played every sport that is popular in America—football, little league baseball, soccer, basketball, track/field, and ice hockey. That sounds very American, doesn’t it? I went not to a public school but a deaf institution at Jacksonville, IL. I wouldn’t call it a school because I grew up there since I was 4 years old and my parents graduated from there too. I was the only Asian there for the most part of my life, though there were some Asians but weren’t in the same class with me. So, I grew up being American without having an Asian friend till I get into a college…

It so happened that I know a friend named Christine who was a college student working at my institution and she received free board/room in return. She was dating a guy who was a Korean. Yes, a rare occurence when a white girl actually dates an Asian guy, not the other way around. On my long road trip to Washington, DC, I stopped by her place in Columbus, Ohio. It was during that time when she asked me if I ever ate Kim-Chi. When I said “nope, never”, her eyes practically fell out of her sockets and her jaws dropped. She thought I was kidding! Then slowly, she started to realize that it all made sense. She’d meet my parents back at my old deaf school and that I didn’t have a lot of exposure to other cultures, so there wasn’t a reason or even a chance for me to eat kim-chi. So, she took me out to a small Korean grocery store that was near her apartment the first thing we got out of the doors.

When she opened the jar, a strong smell came out of the can that only said one thing: it’s very spicy. I was afraid I wasn’t going to like it, despite I was a Korean myself but Christine assured me to eat it with rice as it helped the taste or at least make it less spicy. I took the bite, chewed, and shallowed it. My first thought was that it was unlike others I had eaten. It doesn’t have the same spiciness that you would find in hot salsa or eat hot buffalo chicken wings. Because it’s served cold, it’s cool to the touch and after you chewed it, it became spicy but not to the point where you have to run for a water foundation. I took another bite, then another bite and before I know it, I was already halfway through the jar. Christine had to laugh at me–I’m not sure if she’s proud cuz she was the first person to introduce me to kimchi or that she can’t believe I was instantly hooked to the dish. When it was time for me to go back on the road, she was kind enough to wrap the jar in plastic and told me to take it. My first kimchi.