This week, I’d like to introduce you to Eric Kim, author of the instant NYT bestselling cookbook Korean AmericanNYT Times Cooking Desk columnist, ASMR YouTube pioneer, and former up-and-coming pop star.
I was introduced to Eric through one of his essays—in fact, his first piece—for The Times: “Think of Kimchi as a Verb.” As I discussed in a previous podcast episode, to most Koreans and Korean Americans, kimchi is more than pickled cabbage. I mean that literally, as Eric’s piece does a good job of demonstrating, “kimchi” can refer to a variety of vegetables (not just napa cabbage) and flavors (not just spicy red pepper). But it’s more than just the fact that there are hundreds of different types of “kimchi.” Eric’s words reminded me of how my mother would look at the large, round purple radishes nestled together in wooden crates at our local farmer’s market and immediately wonder out loud: “I wonder if we could make kimchi out of these…?” Thus I was delighted to see yet another Korean American writer who sees “kimchi” not only as something within the confines of a particular cuisine, but as dynamic and adaptable as the hands that salted, pasted and packed kimchi over the centuries.
Despite Eric’s thoughtful essay on the subject, as you’ll hear in this week’s interview, the response was immediate, but negative. Another Korean American food writer wrote to Eric’s editor (ie, boss), claiming the article was flawed. Eric would soon learn that this was, unfortunately, part of the job—navigating the often choppy waters of “representation.” What “representation” means, looks like, and works no As black and white as the words printed in a newspaper, however some wish it to be. Sometimes, the concept of adequate representation may not align with fair representation. And I worry that we’ve been suffocating under a cloak of invisibility for so long, that we’ll do anything, say anything, to be something Even for the possibility of being “seen”.
Food is certainly a vehicle for all kinds of discourse, including political discourse. I bet you can recall many awkward conversations at Thanksgiving or Aunt Helen’s birthday where Uncle Bob got a little loud about something he saw on Fox News or read in the local paper. And, as Senator Cory Booker explored during his recent conversation with Rich Rolle, food itself is a matter of policy, legislation and ginormous lobbying dollars. But what about identity politics? Who are we as individuals who form the nation? How we relate to each other today versus how we were ambition To meet each other tomorrow?
At the very least, politics is about power. And power has historically been defined by the haves and have-nots on the basis that there is not enough for all. But what if it is false? What if we start to believe that there is plenty for everyone?
Listen to my interview with Eric Kim!
This week’s recipe inspo – Kimchi!
Since we’re talking about kimchi, I thought why not make some? I would suggest that now is the perfect time to prepare a summer batch, before it gets too hot to perfect your kimchi squat! If you have my book, you already have the recipe. But you can also watch this YouTube instructional video featuring my own mom!!
That’s when I went to the White House.
As you may have seen (and I mentioned last week), I had the distinct honor of spending my birthday at the White House!! Somehow, the State Department saw fit to invite little ole me to a pre-press event with the First Lady and Chef Edward Lee! I got to hear directly from the First Lady (who is as eloquent as she is elegant – think Jackie-O, just approachable), and also spoke to Chef Lee about her menu and the excitement of preparing for such an important event. . In fact, the ROK first couple’s state visit is only the second of its kind hosted by the current administration.
We headed to DC and it was pretty cool to walk up to the Secret Service guy guarding the barricade and say, “Hi. i am ranking” He took our IDs, used his walkie-talkie to check with someone, and then said, “Yes, you’re on the list. Come on in.” what a great!!! We were given press badges and then led to the press area, where a bunch of reporters and camera crews were setting up. Shortly after that, I met up with my friend Remy (who took my photo above), along with another Korean American content creator on YouTube, Katy Yoo.
Later, we were taken to the State Room, where the First Lady’s staff had set up a few mock dining tables so we could see how the state dinner would be laid out. It turns out that his staff hired a Korean American designer to create a uniquely welcoming environment for state guests, down to the table linen (which was embroidered with bamboo plants). The first lady explained how her mother taught her that, “setting a table can be a labor of love.” Next, we heard from Chef Lee and the White House Culinary Team, and let me tell you, I almost fainted when one of them said they were pouring “Doenzang Caramel Sauce” on President Biden’s lemon ice cream bar!!!
The President of the United States ate Doenzang!!!
Later, we got a chance to speak directly with Chef Lee, and he was kind and generous and funny and nice.
Later that evening, because it was my birthday and we were in DC, we headed to an Indian restaurant recommended by a journalist friend of ours as we wandered the press area: Rasika. Apparently, the Obamas also favor this restaurant and Anthony jumped at the 5:30 pm reservation (we love senior citizen dinner hours….!). We decided to go with the 7-course pre-fixe menu, which was made completely vegan for us. We felt completely stuffed, but very short, very productive and very satisfied memorable Visit our nation’s capital!
South Korea’s first lady is a fan of vegan fashion!!!
I know many people are about the moon [made to look] Karaoke night (featuring “American Pie”) followed, and my own parents were thrilled by President Yoon’s address to Congress, but guess what I was most excited about…
My mom actually told me how the Korean First Lady had a “vegan bag” and I was so excited to find confirmation of that! Actually, I’m the head directly Sell the same exact bag on a website and buy one for yourself! You can find Marhen.J’s bag here!
We were a little late releasing the YouTube version of last week’s episode due to all our traveling, but here it is! In this episode, I tackle one of the questions I get most often regarding my own fitness transformation: how I stay motivated to keep working out and running day after day. To help answer that, I look at the science behind habit formation, and how it’s helped me (and hopefully help you!) develop and maintain a consistent fitness regime.
And that’s a wrap! Talk to you next week!