letter from the editor You notice something was precious only after you lose it. After coming to college, I noticed how much I relied on my grandma’s homemade Korean food. Growing up in Seoul, I was a kid who always nagged my grandma and my parents to eat out. My choices usually swayed between Japanese and Italian restaurants and was rarely Korean. My tastebuds craved something “foreign,” like American burgers or Italian risotto, something other than my grandma’s signature dak-bokkeum-tang (spicy chicken stew) or jaeyook (stirred-fried spicy pork). However, at Northwestern, I craved my grandma’s dishes. I called her once in awhile to write down her recipes and started cooking her signatures for myself and my friends. Then I realized, that they hardly felt the same, not because they tasted vastly different from her dishes but because I could not feel her affection and care. Maybe what I missed was family dinners and my grandma’s love, not the Korean food itself. There’s nothing that demonstrates the culture you’re from like food. There’s nothing that reminds you of home like food. Food is what keeps us alive, and no connection could be more instant than that you have over food. It’s the connection our writer Madison Dong had with her mom making their family’s version of jianbing, Chinese crepes. It’s the connection Parachute’s owner chef had meeting her husband for the first time, which was colorfully described by Sophia Lo in this issue. Food also dramatically displays fault lines in Asian-American experiences. The disparities even within the diverse Asian-American communities are often overlooked, with Chinese, Korean and Japanese-Americans overrepresented in most dialogues. In this issue, David Deloso brought Filipino food and culture into our discussion through his rich reporting on Seafood City, a Filipino supermarket in Chicago next to the I-94. The biggest strength in the Asian-American identity is our flexibility and resilience. We create our own spaces and draft new narratives, while drawing inspirations from our cultural backgrounds. That creative spirit is what we chronicled in ten of our unique stories for this issue. Flip through our pages and immerse yourself not only in stimulating photos and writings on food, but also in the stories they tell—the narratives piecing together mantou and gukbab, kimchi fried rice and congee.
Minho Kim | Editor in Chief
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contributors incoming editor in chief Sarah Han
corporate & social media Christopher Lee | Miya Jia | Tiffany Xu
director of photography Jonathan Dai
photographers Coco Huang | Jesse Zhou Saya Federbush | Miya Jia Mandy Wang | Tracy Zhang Cynthia Zhang
art director & illustrator Rita Liu
designers Natalie Lin | Nina Dym Jennifer Zhan | Rita Liu Eddie Bednarek
editors Paige Shin | Chloe Law Rachel Oh
writers Agnes Lee | Cynthia Zhang David Deloso | Jennifer Zhan | Joan Gwak Madison Dong | Michelle Kim | Seungjoo Oh Sophia Lo | Tracy Zhang
table for one? yes, please!
by Tracy Zhang
The New Yorker described Chinese food in a 2015 article as “fostering communal dining aggressively, even forcefully commanding.” A similar social norm governs South Korea as well. The Straits Times describes that Koreans “go to great lengths to maintain an intricate web of 연줄 (yonjul, Korean for social network), making dining alone akin to social suicide.” When everyone else is eating with friends, talking and laughing, it’s easy for solo-diners to become self-conscious. Raised in Chinese culture, I resonate with these articles. I grew up sharing food with everyone sitting at the same table with me—family, friends, or even people I met for the first time. In a Chinese (dinner parties), people don’t simply eat. Enjoying good food, people also try hard to build (social networks), making dining serve a social function. Recently, however, a taboo-breaking trend of going solo is prevailing. In Korea, even restaurants started to cater to those who prefer 혼밥(honbap), eating alone. In China, vloggers are sharing their “solo life,” getting millions of followers that imitate their recipes, their schedules, and their way of living. What is the culture regarding solo dining here at Northwestern? I walked into the NU dining halls and joined the students while they were sitting by themselves. Here’s how they were celebrating solitude:
I often eat alone just because I don’t have a friend who matches with my schedule. Usually, I’ll listen to music or be on my phone. I can’t just sit and eat because I’ll get bored and it’s awkward. Nobody really notices you, but at the same time, I still feel it’s weird to sit by yourself. [Sophomore, Weinberg]
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I’m always on my phone when I’m eating alone. I’m doing my reading today because I have a class in an hour and I didn’t do it in advance. [Freshman, RTVF]
scarlet li Sometimes it’s hard to go and sit with someone else. A lot of people have headphones or are looking at their phones, and I’m guilty of the same thing. I feel the dining hall kind of perpetuates that. I think it’ll be interesting to change the seat arrangement... maybe round tables would encourage people to sit together? [Freshman, Journalism]
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I don’t mind eating alone by myself. Sometimes you might feel like people are judging you when you are eating alone, but a lot of people do it so I don’t really care. [Freshman, Weinberg]
When I first started here, it was like, “oh my gosh, I can’t eat alone” because I feel like in high school, if you eat alone, you’re like a loser. But here, I found it very relaxing and peaceful. I enjoy having company but when I have to multitask, like this coding homework I’m working on, I can just take a break from interacting with people and get work done. [Freshman, School of Communication]
I enjoy reading news articles, sports articles—things like that—when I’m alone. I eat alone because of my schedule, but also because I just enjoy it. It’s a decent time for reflection, especially being in a double...I LOVE my roommate, but still, it’s nice to be alone occasionally and recharge. [Freshman, Journalism]
authenticity in the
Every time I return home to Bloomington, Illinois, my mother asks me what I’d like to eat. After all, we have a finite number of meals together, and we might as well make the dishes that I don’t get to have at school.I always ask for jianbing guozi, a Northern Chinese street food. But again—I live in Bloomington, the middle of Illinois. Not a suburb, not Chicago, but a town placed right on Route 66.
Because American-Chinese cuisine is so prominent in America, we tend to discuss Chinese food in particular as either being “authentic” or not. But growing up in the more rural Midwest meant that the Chinese food I ate was either my mom’s cooking, substitutions and all, or American-Chinese takeout. I was never able to casually find dim sum, hot pot, Szechuan food, or whatever you may classify as authentic.
So when my mom and I go shopping for groceries to make jianbing, we don’t buy mung beans or soy paste because in the dimensions of a Jewel-Osco or Meijer, those foods just don’t exist. Instead, we make substitutions such as a Mexican tortilla for the pancake or bacon for the meat filling.
As a result, authentic didn’t mean much to me. Whatever was placed in front of me, I accepted as the real deal.
We find joy in these changes. Giggling over the stove, we sprinkle on some shredded cheese, just to spice things up a little. Strange, but it does the job—or at least by our standards.
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I started questioning the legitimacy of my appetite when I came to college. When I asked my Northwestern friends if they like Chicago’s Chinatown, many either said it was “not authentic,” or not worth the L trip. That was definitely not the case for my family when I was growing up. Every month, on a Sunday, my family and I would squish into our silver Toyota and drive 2.5 hours just to park in the lot
ong photographyhabnyg D n o s y Z Madi & Trac g a Zhan
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underneath the Red Line stop, get haircuts, eat a satisfying Chinese meal, and buy a ton of Asian groceries to last us until next time. Even though I was raised more than 100 miles from Chinatown, I know that neighborhood like the back of my hand. We tried almost every restaurant in the neighborhood. I remember my favorites: pork and preserved egg congee from Ken Kee. Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles from Slurp Slurp. Zhajiangmian from Lao Beijing (before they shut down). Many more. The trunk of our Toyota SUV would get filled to the brim with plastic bags of fish, vegetables, hot pot flavoring, and sunflower seeds. We’d end our trip with sponge cake from Saint Anna bakery, or, in the summer, we’d drink fruit slushes from Joy Yee (before more artisanal boba shops opened up). It was a routine. My parents still do this, and they use visiting me in Evanston as an excuse. They drive to Chinatown, then Evanston, then home, all in one Sunday. It’s a journey. To us, it’s worth it. It was more delicious than what we had at home. So in college, if my Chinese or ChineseAmerican friends didn’t think Chinatown was authentic, what would they possibly think of the food in Bloomington? Of the food my mother makes? I started to question my own experiences. Had I been eating “real” food, or a poor imitation? After all, the idea of authenticity implies that some foods are less legitimate than others, and therefore inferior. You can argue that mainland Chinese food came first, takes more effort and more elaborate ingredients to prepare, and is hence worth more than your average breaded-and-fried sesame chicken. This is valid. But what
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of the labor of whoever came all the way to America, opened their own restaurant in a place unknown to them and made that food? What of my mother, who left her family to raise me here and tried her best to make the foods she herself grew up with? What of every memory I have sitting with my dad in Great Wall Restaurant, slurping up lo mein on a paper plate and showing each other our fortune cookies? These experiences are authentic and core to who I am. By putting that food on a lower tier, do we devalue the experiences behind them? In college, I’m exposed to more Asian food than ever before. Evanston has three Chinese restaurants, none of which are American style. Kung-Fu Tea is just off campus, which is an especially big change for me because Bloomington didn’t have a single boba shop when I was younger. But I’m not uncultured to find Panda Express delicious. I’m not a fake Chinto to use a tortilla for jianbing. I call these foods American-Chinese, and I call what you
RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN might consider “authentic” Chinese, mainland food. Because it’s all Chinese in some way, and rooted in Chinese experiences. When I’m old, I imagine that I’ll be cooking this type of food because it’s what my mom taught me. I’m sure I’ll be living in a more urban place, where I could find mainland jianbing in a local restaurant. Every once in a while, however, I’ll go to a grocery store to make my “authentic” jianbing—with some tortillas and bacon.
RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN RURAL C HINATOWN
spill or fill by jennifer zhan
Sometimes when my mind wanders, I daydream about what it would be like to be a celebrity. I imagine traveling the globe, buying my family whatever they want and being so famous I could rent out Harry Potter World for a private visit—you know, the typical things.
world’s most well-known people spitting into trash cans and making gloriously entertaining faces of discomfort. The segment features foods such as thousand-year-old eggs, jellyfish, chicken feet, pig blood curd and fish eyes. In other words, foods that most Americans would find gross, but that I could find in almost any Asian supermarket. Of course, James serves these items alone and usually with a lot less seasoning or sauce than I’m used to, but it’s still amusing to imagine how much I could horrify his audience by just calmly eating some of my favorite childhood dishes.
“it wouldn’t have always been so easy for me to joke about this show.”
Recently, though, I’ve added something a little more unusual to my fantasy bucket list: I want to be invited on James Corden’s late night talk show and play “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.” The half-interview, halfgame makes celebrities choose between answering personal questions and eating “disgusting” food. It’s a great premise. If the audience doesn’t get to learn a juicy new piece of information, they can at least get screenshots of some of the 10 | nuazn magazine
But the truth is that it wouldn’t have always been so easy for me to joke about
this show. For over a decade of public school, I always preferred to buy my meals from the cafeteria. I shuddered at the idea of my school friends finding out that I not only ate but loved eating things like seaweed, tripe and pig ear at home. For the most part, it was easy to keep my secret. But I couldn’t always hide it. I vividly remember setting down a drumstick one day in elementary school to see all my friends staring, eyes transfixed on the completely clean bone. I’d thought chicken was a safe food, but one quick glance at all the skin, cartilage and bone marrow left untouched on their plates assured me otherwise. Somehow, killing an animal and eating its flesh are generally acceptable to most Americans, but eating certain other parts is deemed unnecessary and almost savage. Top this off with the stereotype that Chinese people are monsters who eat pet dogs and cats, and I never wanted to give anyone the slightest idea that I might enjoy eating strange foods. I didn’t want to be seen as uncivilized. It seemed to be a collective Asian-American experience to bring lunch to school only to be surprised by how humiliating simple words like “stinky” and “gross” could feel. Among my Asian friends, it sometimes took years to hear
art by: cynthia zhang
someone breathlessly confess that they also really liked fish eyes. Unsurprisingly, then, when we had an assignment in a middle school health class where we needed to record our home meals for a week, I was afraid we might have to share with the class at the end. I was worried that even if that didn’t happen, my teacher might form a bad opinion of me while grading my chart, which was sure to stand out with the presence of things like stomachs, livers and blood curd. Instead of being honest, I ended up Googling “American dinners” and filling up the boxes with lies every night. Over those seven days, I realized that there’s no use in pretending that I don’t care about food, that what I eat is so inconsequential to me that I can switch livers and blood curd for mashed potatoes and pasta, or any of the other cuisine I found online that I’d never once had at home. I can keep my culture’s food to myself and pretend that the things I eat in public are the same as the ones I eat at home, but food is more than just physical sustenance. To deny the food that I love is to deny a part myself. Food is tied to every memory of Lazy Susans spinning into endless nights of catching up with old and new friends over old and new foods. It is
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wrapped up in the kitchen scent that makes the difference between a house and my home. Through food, my parents served me countless prescriptions of love that I requested or was wordlessly offered when I was heartbroken or celebrating or nervous or sick. I understand that there will always be people who think my eating habits are wrong or gross, but I have decided to accept them as beautiful. I won’t be embarrassed that sometimes we buy ingredients that aren’t sold in my small Texas hometown, because that has created years of precious memories of day trips to Chinatown supermarkets. I won’t pretend that it is never messy when eat, because sometimes it is, and that feels like home.
“I don’t think there is any reason that the arbitrary plants and animal parts most Westerners are okay with eating deserve to be the standard in deciding what is disgusting or inhuman to eat.”
I by no means claim to like every single Asian food (I still can’t really stomach durian or balut), but I don’t think there is any reason that the arbitrary plants and animal parts most Westerners are okay with eating deserve to be the standard in deciding what is disgusting or inhuman to eat. In fact, I believe there is something admirable about a culture that tries not to waste what has already been lost, and I am glad that because my parents raised me to not judge based on names or appearances, I’ve had incredible meals with flavors and textures some people could never even begin to imagine. “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” offers guests a choice between eating and confessing. I struggled for a long time between whether I should quietly pretend to like “normal food” or be honest. For me, the spinning table where Corden displays isolated and oddly soggy food is a weird parallel of a typical Chinese restaurant’s Lazy Susan. I’m sure it would have bothered me back in middle school to see celebrities sitting down and gagging at the smell of foods I might have eaten that week. Now, though, I don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed watching those clips. I’m amused, for sure, and definitely a little pained at seeing so much perfectly good food end up in the trash. But the most powerful urge I get is to just pull up a chair and invite James to try our food the way it was meant to be tried. Not on its own, highlighted as some sort of strange, aberrant thing, but paired with other dishes, cooked with love and eaten the way it was meant to be—with an open stomach and an open mind.
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a nu search for Many students who leave home for the first time for college find themselves drowning in homesickness, desperately searching for something that reminds them of home. For Northwestern students Erin Zhang and Justine Kim, food soothes their yearning for home, recreating their nostalgic memories in a contrasting environment.
comfort ak by Joan Gw photography
by Jesse Zhou
fried chicken bites
fried chicken bites Erin Zhang, a freshman from St. Louis, Missouri, found herself craving fried chicken during late nights at University Library in fall quarter. With no options for fried chicken on campus, Zhang, along with her friend Stephen Council, searched for easy recipes to satisfy their fried chicken itch. When winter quarter rolled along, Zhang and Council invested in a deep fryer and gave making fried chicken from scratch a shot. “The preparation for cooking the chicken is relatively easy,” said Zhang. “We focus on what goes into the marination.” Zhang and Council use a special marinade, soaking bite-size chunks of raw chicken in buttermilk accompanied with some spices.The two cook the food in a tag-team style, with one prepping the chicken and the other manning the fryer. To top off the crispy fried chicken, Zhang and Council use a mayonnaise-based “strange, savory” sauce called “yum-yum sauce.” The name is inspired by a Japanese restaurant near Zhang’s home.
Zhang and Council started selling their fried chicken in winter quarter, cooking approximately 20 pounds of chicken twice a month. The two hope to partner with Fran’s Cafe to provide late-night fried chicken for as an option available to hungry night-owls. They are also open to the idea of collaborating with the Garage in a similar manner as Brewbike did. “We cook the food in a very fresh, homey environment in Shepard,” says Zhang. “Everything we make is for the people.”
korean comfort food
korean comfort food The night Justine Kim, a senior from Naperville, cooked a bunch of Korean food for her friends, firefighters were putting a fire out on the roof of her apartment. A bit of an aside, but it set the tone for the night of cooking. The kitchen was messy, no worse or better than the average college dweller. While the meal was prepared, her apartment smelled like one of the open air bars in Seoul—oozing the smell of stir-fries and sizzling korean barbecue. Kim and her friends casually chatted about the fire on the roof and the KASA show, the Korean American Student Association’s annual cultural show that took place recently. Here are some snapchats of the night overflowing with simple but heartwarming Korean bar food—with ddukbboki(떡볶이), kimchi fried rice(김치볶음밥), banchan and savory pancakes(전).
lle Kim by Miche photography by
Zhang Cynthia a Jia y i M m help fro g n i t r o ep
an an asian-american asian-american family family & & their their food food Ucharacteristic for this late in the year, snow billows down from the mid-April sky, cloaking the green of spring with its flurry. The 208 bus dutifully storms onward despite the inclement weather, taking us from Northwestern’s campus in Evanston to Schaumburg, IL, where Matthew Jun’s family lives. Matthew is a freshman studying electrical engineering at Northwestern University and has invited us into his home for dinner. He is the third of four children and a second-generation Korean American, with both of his parents immigrating to the United States before meeting one another in the Chicagoland area and starting a family. Living on campus, Matthew does not go home very often during the quarter. “I miss home whenever I’m reminded of just chilling in front of the TV with my siblings or eating my mom’s food,” he says. Dining
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hall food can only sustain one for so long. After an hour and a half on the snowbattered bus, during which Matthew diligently types up a report and we finalize our interview questions, we arrive at Woodfield Mall where Matthew’s parents meet us. On our way to their home, Matthew’s sarcastic demeanor is reflected in his father as they banter throughout the car ride. “I’m your favorite, right, Abba?” Matthew asks his father. “Yes, he is my favorite son,” Abba acquiesces, “but only because there’s just one son in the car right now.” Though the three eldest children are now adults and live independently, the Jun’s house is still full of the signs of home:. Endearing family portraits and photo enlargements of the four children striking
the same pose for three consecutive years line the living room. In the kitchen, pencil markings score the doorway, tracking the kids’ growth throughout their adolescence. “Stop it, Matthew. You’re going to eat all of the kimbap before we even set the table.” “I’m only eating the ugly ones, Umma,” Matthew grumbles before stuffing another end piece of the Korean sushi roll into his mouth. His mother shakes her head but does not protest. The rhythmic knock of the knife against the cutting board and the simmering of the bulgogi heating up on the stove mingle into a familiar melody. The Jun family is preparing for dinner. Umma takes strips of pickled radish and egg, laying them next to the boiled spinach, carrot and imitation crab nestled in the rice and sheet of dried seaweed.
With deft fingers, she tucks everything into a neat kimbap roll. Abba is in charge of reheating the bulgogi and occasionally stirs the marinated beef with a practiced hand. Matthew scoops the rice and dips in and out of the kitchen, taking dishes out to the table with mechanical precision. Down by his feet, the family dogs Amber, a tiny maltese, and Leah, a large black mix, scamper around eagerly. Tteokbokki, japchae, donkatsu, kimbap, bulgogi, and golbaengi-muchim. Spicy rice cakes, stir-fried glass noodles, deep fried pork and chicken cutlet, Korean sushi rolls, marinated beef, and moon snail noodle salad. The wide array of food is spread across the table like a colorful fan. Kimchi and white pickled radish cubes proudly embellish the meal, two staple side dishes in Korean cuisine. The boiled somyeon, thin wheat flour noodles, is curled into little balls next to the mix of spicy sauce, sliced vegetables and moon snails.
“i’m only eating the ugly ones!”
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This is Abba’s anju of choice whenever his friends come over for drinks. The donkatsu sauce sits unassumingly next to the steak sauce, an unlikely pair. Matthew favors the western steak sauce to drizzle over his fried cutlet. Arms cross as dishes are exchanged, and laughter flavors the conversation. Though H-Mart and a local Korean grocery store are nearby, Umma recalls how difficult getting ingredients for Korean dishes used to be as a child. The only Korean market in her area was Joong Boo Market in downtown Chicago and proved challenging to visit often. So whenever her family did make a trip, they would stock up on everything, stuffing the trunk full with precious reminders of home. These trips were special, and Umma loved each one. In American grocery stores, the English on the packaging was confusing and unfamiliar, so her parents stuck to straightforward foods like milk and eggs. For the newly immigrated family, Korean groceries were a highly sought-after luxury in a land of Costcos and Jewel-Oscos. After immigrating to the United States at 11 years old, Umma learned how to cook from observing her mother and grandmother. Homemade Korean dishes generally do not involve any recipe, using approximations and a certain mother’s intuition. Starting with small tasks in the kitchen, Umma eventually assumed the responsibility of cooking for her whole family at a young age as both of her parents
worked. While she liked preparing the food, she didn’t enjoy the responsibility and missed just being a kid. And so, when raising her own children, she chose not to burden them with such responsibilities. Instead, Umma did all the cooking so that her kids could fully enjoy their childhood. “I wanted them to rest, play and study,” she says. Things have changed since Umma first immigrated to the Chicagoland area. Now, there is a big Korean supermarket chain, H-Mart, just a short drive from their Schaumburg home. Brightly lit with aisles upon aisles of Asian goods, it’s a far cry from the “shelved garage” type of market from Umma’s childhood. This new Americanized superstore is every child’s wonderland and makes Asian ingredients far more accessible for Asian American families. Nevertheless, Umma tries to frequent a smaller, family-owned market in the neighborhood for most Korean products. Though it’s slightly more expensive, supporting a local family business is more important in her eyes. However, she never fails to check H-Mart ads for a good deal. While Umma immigrated as a child, Abba came to the States with his family at the age of 21. It was while working at a wholesale business that he met Umma. The two went on many dates on Northwestern’s beautiful campus, taking long walks together along the lakeshore and enjoying meals at local
Evanston restaurants. One of their favorite spots was Yesterday’s, a bar and eatery on Sherman Avenue that closed around 20 years ago. It’s corner location is now home to Lou Malnati’s Pizza. “Yesterday’s had the best coleslaw,” Umma remembers with a smile. “The very last time I went was when I was pregnant with my first child, Kevin.” With her heavily pregnant belly tucked up against the table, she had asked for a side of coleslaw. The waitress had given her a huge bowl at no extra charge. Matthew says that when he was younger, he didn’t even realize Northwestern was a university and only knew it as a frequent location for family outings. The family would often drive out to campus to feed the ducks on the lakefill. While they were dating, Umma and Abba would always say how they wanted their children to one day attend Northwestern. And their dreams eventually came true; their eldest son Kevin graduated from Northwestern in 2015, and Matthew is now a freshman in the McCormick School of Engineering. Just as they did while dating, Matthew’s parents still visit Northwestern’s campus, but for different reasons. “I’m most grateful when they come up to visit me and bring me rice and seaweed,” Matthew says. Abba proudly sports a purple Northwestern sweatshirt throughout dinner.
For today’s meal, Umma used meat from an American store and Korean red chilli flakes to make Matthew’s favorite dish: yukgaejang, a thick spicy soup made from shredded beef and scallions. Although, Matthew notes, the soup is not a day old which is always the “best kind.” In the case of a spice aversion—which is unfortunate, as many Korean foods are spicy to some degree—eomuk, fishcake in a light broth, serves as a milder option. The impressive spread of Korean food tonight represents a variety of food styles, from street food like tteokbokki and eomuk to more traditional food like yukgaejang. For this dinner, Umma carefully considered the menu, choosing dishes that require ingredients already found at home and are so familiar that she knows them by heart. Abba reaches for another piece of kimbap, a widely popular dish in Korea due to its simplicity and convenience. It’s a nostalgic food, Abba reminisces. Back in Korea, for elementary school picnics, almost all of the students brought kimbap rolls packed by their mothers or grandmothers to share. While it was a common dish, there was still something special about peering into a lunch box and spotting perfectly round kimbap slices snuggled next to one another. This tradition of eating kimbap on field trips continued for the Juns here in America. Almost every family road trip is accompanied by six stuffed kimbap rolls wrapped up in aluminium foil. Although the rolls are usually sliced, the Juns will also eat them whole like a burrito for a meal on the go. As with many Asian-American families, the Juns like to take classical American cuisine and add a twist. For example, bulgogi sandwiches are a favorite for the family. The sweet marinated beef compliments
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the bread surprisingly well. The crosscultural influence also goes the other way; kimchi made from kale is a common side dish in the Jun household. Made from the same chilli powder seasoning as traditional kimchi, kale kimchi uses kale, which is easily found in Western grocery stores, in the place of Korean white radish. For dessert, it’s a B.B.Big red bean bar for Abba and a honeydew-flavored Melona bar for Matthew. Crispy shrimp crackers balance out the sweetness of the frozen treats. Korean snacks are imported and thus more expensive, making each one a rare indulgence. Unlike American snacks and their bulk portions, Korean snacks often come in boxes of four or six. With four kids in the family, the opening of a snack box is a ceremonious event; it involves repeated “who didn’t get one?”s and an honesty policy to keep the peace. One stray hand sneaking into the ice cream box gone unchecked could result in a war of nuclear proportions. But no wars will be waged tonight; Matthew’s older brother and sister are now living away from home, and Matthew lives on campus. Abba takes advantage of this fact and reaches for a second ice cream bar. He tentatively offers more to us, but we knowingly decline. Delight shines in his eyes as he quickly shoves the leftover ice cream into the freezer to enjoy for later. Matthew’s parents kindly drive us back to campus despite the continuous snowfall. They enjoy attending school events, and there just so happens to be a performance tonight from Boomshaka, a student drum and rhythm ensemble. They choose to stay for the show, parking their family-sized van—with a purple NU sticker stuck to its back window—in the lot.
Bulgogi Marinated beef
Kimbap Korean sushi rolls
Stir-fried glass noodles
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More than How Parachute Defies Expectations by Sophia Lo
photography by Coco Huang
On the corner of North Elston Avenue and North Troy Street, Parachute has made a name after receiving a Michelin star in October 2018. Even with such a prestigious honor, Parachute remains a welcoming
lining the walls and an open kitchen. The restaurant fills up early in the evening, a testament to its food and popularity.
environment for all who walk through the door. When you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted with light streaming through the window, sleek black chairs, stereos and greenery
One of their most popular items is the baked potato bing bread, which is soft and delicate inside while crunchy on the outside. Paired with a light cream cheese with salt sprinkled on top, the bing bread
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Restaurant owners, chefs and husbandand-wife duo Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark strive to create original and unconventional dishes. The menu reflects on the restaurant’s whimsical nature with its colorful polka dots, and the food itself allows both of them to express their creativity. Although Kim insistently defines Parachute’s menu as contemporary, rather than “Korean-inspired”, it is difficult to miss the influence from Korean cuisine. From starters like oysters with soju granita to entrees such as mandu (dumplings) with aged beef, Parachute’s innovation stems from the most humble but popular Korean ingredients and dishes.
is a wonderful way to introduce a meal. Parachute’s signature entree pork belly is crisp but also full of soft and flavorful pork fat on the inside. The crunch of the lettuce with the acidity from the pickled garlic pull together all the elements that make up a satisfying dish. Although it’s easy to fill up on the main dishes, the desserts at Parachute are not to be overlooked. The matcha tiramisu is an example of blending European cooking with Asian flavors. It is soft, spongy and perfectly moist. The cream is very sweet, so the matcha powder on top adds a little bitterness to balance the flavors. Korean and other Asian influences may appear in Parachute’s dishes, but Parachute is more than simply Korean-American fusion. Kim feels that she’s able to bridge her Korean heritage with her experiences living in the United States.
“There are so many shades of your character, even being identified as Korean-American or whatever ethnic label you have. You just have so much shades more based on how you grew up or where you came from,” Kim said. “This combines me, and it combines my husband. We just want to be something that’s different because life is too short to eat boring food!” The food is rooted in Kim and Clark’s background, shared experiences and the global cuisines they love. Kim stressed that she doesn’t want the menu at Parachute to be limited by any rules, saying their food is “a personal expression.” As Kim and Clark’s personal expression, Parachute brings down a clear set of rules defining each cuisine, drawing inspiration from a variety of culinary issue #26 food | 25
styles from different countries. Their kimchi fried rice certainly has a Korean flair, but nduja, an Italian sausage, also brings some of the spiciness and punch. Another example is Parachute’s version of maeuntang(매운탕), which is traditionally a spicy Korean fish stew with a red broth. Instead, Parachute’s broth is made from fresh produce and a spinach puree, giving it a unique green color. While the gorgeous color is certainly memorable, the flavor also shines through. The soft fish and tofu soak up the gentle, delicate broth. The fourth child of immigrant parents, Kim grew up with her mother cooking traditional Korean cuisine. She described the three fridges in her home: one with pickles and kimchi, another with dried fish and soy sauces and the last with fresh produce and everyday ingredients. Kim recalls her role as the “fetcher” for her mother, running to grab the right
ingredients for each meal and helping her cook or set the table. “I enjoyed being around food, and I enjoyed being around my mom,” she said. “Helping my mom with cooking was kind of a bonding thing, because we didn’t have very much, honestly, to bond with because of the cultural barriers and language barriers.” Although she grew up eating traditional Korean food her mom cooked, Kim doesn’t rely purely on those experiences when coming up with Parachute’s menu. “We always try to rethink it,” she said. “We also want to stimulate your creativity, stimulate some innovation. We might take an idea that stems from Korean, but it’s a completely different idea. It could be a combination of flavors or maybe something that evokes that same emotion from your moms’ food.” Kim also has a mindset where she focuses
on small details and how to balance the flavors and textures in a dish, for example, with light and rich or umami and bitterness. By following these principles as well as drawing inspiration from various cuisines, Kim and Clark redefine the meaning of fusion food. When Kim set out to combine Korean and Western cooking styles, she recalls being unable to find anyone who could teach her specific techniques. Now, Asian fusion is becoming more popular in mainstream cuisine. Although Kim doesn’t necessarily define Parachute as Asian fusion and focuses more on the flavors she and her husband enjoy, she recognizes that Parachute has a place in the Chicago food scene. “I feel proud of what we’ve developed in this neighborhood,” she said. “I feel very proud of what we’ve added to not only just the Asian-American community, but the community in general for the dining scene, helping people to be open
about these different flavors as part of the American palate. I see myself as an American, so this is part of bringing my heritage but bridging it with what I enjoy here.” After going to culinary school at Kendall College, Kim began her professional cooking career at the Ritz Carlton hotel as a stagiaire, a trainee chef. She later worked at Charlie Trotter’s before switching to catering and became a sous chef, the second-in-command of a kitchen. Kim found her first mentor while working at Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook. On the way to work at Prairie Grass Cafe, Kim got into a car accident. This was a wake-up call for her. She reflected on her Chicago-based career and decided she needed a change: a trip to Korea. Kim spent her time in Korea backpacking and taking cooking classes. Here, she realized she didn’t lose her passion for food but wanted to bring her heritage
and background into the French cooking techniques she learned.
resume, where he mentioned his work experience in Korea.
Coming back to the U.S., Kim applied to Red Light, a now-closed pan-Asian restaurant in the West Loop. At their sister restaurant, Opera, Kim climbed the ladder and became sous chef, then chef de cuisine and finally executive chef.
Although Clark grew up in Cincinnati and studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, he traveled to Korea to learn more about the food. He worked as a sous chef under renowned Korean chef Lim Jiho at the restaurant Sandang. Located in a rural village a couple dozen miles aways from Seoul, Sandang was where Lim radically experimented with Korean cuisine, unheeding to vicious critics from the city. Kim had to interview him, having known about Lim’s restaurant.
Later, Kim was on Top Chef, a reality TV show and cooking competition. The publicity from the show boosted Kim’s presence, giving her a better chance to open a restaurant with her husband. Although she describes herself as a noncompetitive person, Kim competed in Top Chef to further the opportunities for her family and to create a shared experience with Johnny, her husband. Kim’s first impression of Johnny was his resume. Skimming through applications for a new chef position at Opera, Kim got immediately drawn into Clark’s
When Kim met her husband Johnny Clark, she felt an instant connection, especially after learning what his favorite Korean food was. “I had to ask him because if he said something as lame as galbi or bulgogi, then I would just...” said Kim, waving her
hand indicating that would have been it. “But he said chung-gukjang(청국장). Chung-guk-jang is this kind of really ultra stinky, fermented food, and when he said that, I was like ‘Oh, I think I’m in love!’” Kim said Clark’s experience with Lim Jiho of Sandang was essential for launching Parachute. She considers Lim’s food to be “global food” rather than “Korean food” and emphasizes his philosophy of “food as medicine.” Lim understands where to find local spices and herbs in the mountains, which lends another perspective to his food. After learning from Lim, Clark gained new insights into cooking, which he brings to his work today.
or “contemporary cooking.” This shift signals Kim and Clark’s desire to continue experimenting with food instead of restricting themselves to one type of cuisine.
“I couldn’t do this restaurant without Clark. He is the heart and soul,” Kim continued, saying, “I think we push each other really hard. We’re both go-getters and dreamers. I feel very fortunate to have a partner where I can dream but also be grounded.”
Both Kim and Clark had formative experiences in Korea that led to the creation of Parachute, but not all of their memories were pleasant. While Kim was in Korea, she was working without pay at The Hotel Shilla, a five star hotel in Seoul, in order to develop her skills as a chef and learn more about the cuisine. Korean chefs at Shilla, however, didn’t understand or trust her intentions. As a Korean-American, she realized she wasn’t fully accepted in Korea, yet she also felt like an outsider growing up in the U.S.
Together, they brought their love for Korean and global foods to create their restaurant, Parachute. Now, their second restaurant is in the works. Their new restaurant is inspired by their travels in United Kingdom, France and Korea, and Kim is clear about not labeling it as Korean-inspired. Instead, like Lim, she wants to refer to it as “global cooking”
She soon realized that her colleagues were calling her a “nakhasan,” but she did not know what it meant. At a time where there were no smartphones, Kim made an international phone call to ask her mom about the word. Her mother tried to dodge the question but eventually told her that “nakhasan (낙하산)” was the Korean word for parachute. issue #26 food | 29
not belong there. Kim’s struggle with her identity is a continuous one even in Seoul, as someone who occupies an unsupported middle ground between American and Korea. “I think it’s a positive that I’m not ‘Korean Korean,’ and I’m not ‘American American’ because I don’t have any rules to break. I just can be different, and I have a different perspective, and I can bridge that gap without having being boxed in.” Unlike the English connotation of the word as a safety net or lifeline, the word “parachute” is a widelyused derogatory term in Korea for those who got their positions because of favoritism and special privileges, having fallen from the sky out of the blue on a parachute. Her colleagues suspected her motives, constantly pushing her out and thinking she did
For Kim, naming her first restaurant as Parachute was a step toward empowering herself and reclaiming her identity as an Asian-American. It was a way of cherishing her accomplishments, taking ownership of the insult directed at her and replacing it as a name for her ambitions, philosophy and passion.
love languages by Cynthia Zhang
Saying I love you without saying a single word. Love languages can differ from person to person, from one culture to another. For some, it’s words of affirmation. For others, it’s quality time, or perhaps acts of service. For my family? It’s food. For as long as I can remember, it’s been food. Now, hear me out. Is there anything else that says “I love you” more strongly than a plate of sliced fruit handed to you out of nowhere? You probably didn’t ask for it. In fact, it’s almost always unprompted. That subtle and involuntary act is an undeniable proof of love. In high school, I’d spend hours in my room working nonstop on projects and school assignments. Some days, there’d be so much homework that I only saw my family when I sat down to eat dinner.
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But almost every night, without fail, my parents would call for me to come downstairs to the kitchen and hand me a plate of sliced apples. They did it without a word, but you still pick up on the unspoken messages. Stay healthy. Don’t forget to eat. You must be working hard. 我爱你. Over time, you learn to read the small signs and the insignificant gestures: the way your father raises an eyebrow at the snacks you sneak into the shopping cart but doesn’t put them back on the shelves, or the way your mother lets you know she’s making your favorite dish because she knows you like to watch her cook. It’s all in the fine details. When I was little, my parents would often make 馒头, steamed buns, for the whole family to enjoy. Even though I was young at the time and could do very little to help, I was always given a seat of honor in the kitchen where I could watch my parents cook. I would always observe them reverently, mesmerized by the process of making 馒头. Even now, I can remember the cutting board my mother would lay out on the dinner table, coated in a dusting of flour. The giant mound of dough she’d knead until it was ready. The steady, rhythmic chop of the cleaver she’d use to cut the dough into neat slabs, ready to be steamed and cooked.
My father, a usually serious and stoic man, would entertain me by sculpting small animals from the dough. His speciality was creating butterflies and hedgehogs with eyes made of tiny beans. Inspired, I would often try to make my own edible creations. They usually looked pitiful in comparison to his and even uglier after coming out of the oven, but we ate them nonetheless. There’s an interesting duality in expressing love through food—yes, there’s love in cooking for someone, but there’s also love in eating and making sure you leave nothing on the plate. One of my favorite dishes growing up was 黄瓜炒肉, cucumber and pork stir-fry. To supply this unique addiction of mine, my family grew cucumbers in our backyard. Within a few years, the cucumber plants had grown so large that their vines blacked out one of our windows, thoroughly covering the glass with leaves so that no light could shine through. Years later, my father told me how, in order to not waste any of the cucumbers we’d grown, we ate so much cucumber stir-fry that he grew sick of it. Because it was my favorite dish, however, he never said a word about it. My family’s habitual expression of affection and care through food can be traced all the way back to my grandmother. She was an incredible woman. The only thing stronger than was her love for her family. She came issue #26 food | 33
to the United States to take care of me when I was born while both of my parents worked but later returned to China due to her poor health. It was a huge challenge for me to converse with my grandmother. Because she spoke a different dialect from the one I learned to speak Mandarin, we sometimes couldn’t understand what the other was trying to say. And yet, despite this barrier, never once did I doubt how much she loved me, because even without words, I could still hear the message; 我爱你. I heard it said, every time she asked my father what dishes or snacks I liked. Spoken, every minute she spent cooking over the stove in her small apartment kitchen. Shouted, loud and clear, every time she sat by my side at the dinner table, quietly watching me eat as she made sure there was always enough food on my plate. For my little brother, who hardly knew any Mandarin words, it was near impossible to communicate with our grandmother. Yet the last time we visited her, my grandmother was able to teach him how to make 饺子. I still remember watching the two of them roll dough 34 | nuazn magazine
for the dumplings in the kitchen. Not a single word was exchanged between them, but they worked together in perfect, seamless harmony. Not a single word, but my grandmother still laughed as my brother gleefully redecorated his shirt with fistfuls of flour. It’s an incredibly intimate process to cook for someone else. All the time and effort that’s put into the preparation. Potential hours spent hunched over a boiling pot, slicing and mixing ingredients, meticulously rolling, pinching, and arranging everything to make a perfect, mouth-watering dish. All the while, you’re probably thinking of the person you’re cooking for—the expression on their face when they see what you’ve made for them, and their reaction after they take their first bite of food. That feeling, that happiness you get from watching them enjoy what you’ve made for them— that’s why you put the apron on, fire up the stove, and take out the pots and pans, every time. At the very least, that’s what my parents say they feel when they’re cooking. I imagine I’ll feel the same one day, when I learn how to cook in the kitchen without setting something aflame.
from jongro How My Grandparents Taught Me Seoul Through Food
by Seungjoo Oh photos from Seungjoo Oh When I was little, my grandparents would take me everywhere. I would hop onto the backseat of my grandma’s car to go home after school or hold my grandpa’s hand to get on to the subway. Cruising through the streets of Seoul, I marveled at the cityscape filled with food stands here and there and the dichotomy of old and new buildings. What made these trips so enjoyable were the little stops that we used to make on our way back home, picking up small
portions of street food from disorganized, bustling vendors. That always made me very happy. The menu varied time to time— from ice cream waffles in Hagye-dong, to fried boiled eggs on a stick in Mia-dong, to spicy fish cake sticks or chicken skewers near Seokgye Station—but regardless of the food we took out, the chubby little boy was always enthralled with a mouthful of food. Yes, it did take me awhile to lose all the baby fat, but nothing could replace that special bond I had with my grandparents over street food.
My grandparents were there for me all the time. When I went to the Nagwon Instrument Arcade in downtown Seoul to fix my guitar, they took me to a small gukbap place, a traditional dish of meaty soup with rice that my grandparents used to feed me a lot. I remember the day when a gentleman sitting across from us came up and said he was amazed by the sight of my grandparents and the chubby little me. The gentleman was intrigued to see a small kid feasting a traditional dish like gukbab at a run-down restaurant in the shabby, dilapidated backstreets of Jongno. The neighborhood near Nagwon Arcarde is known as a hangout place for retired and spiritless old gentlemen who dress up in worn-out suits to play Chinese chess on a park corner. He just could not believe I was there, having a
good time with both of my grandparents as a family. I never knew that we were a peculiar sight to some people until I got to school. My first-grade homeroom teacher made parents (mostly moms, of course) to “volunteer” as “helper moms” who would come in once a week to help the teacher take care of little first graders. When my grandma came in as the parent helper, my teacher expressed his “concerns.” How he reacted was shocking for me, since I always thought that there was nothing wrong with my grandmother taking care of me, with my mom busy as a doctor. I value my time with my grandparents and respect them. They shaped who I am. Thanks to them, my perspectives of understanding not
only food, but the world is bigger and broader. I was a kid who loved both McDonalds and 오징어젓(fermented pickled squid). I was a kid who hung out at the center for the elderly citizens after school, soaking in two different worlds on the same day.
parents’ work; I would be leaving the country soon for Northwestern. And now my grandparents have grown feeble, nowhere near as strong as they once were. I realized that things that I took for granted were things that I should have valued more.
Every time I walk past by a food stand, I automatically recall the time when I was there with my grandparents. Before I went off to Northwestern, I visited Nagwon Instrument Arcade to once again repair my guitar. While it was in the works, I decided to look around the arcade by myself. I soon ran across the same gukbap place I went to as a child with my grandpa. I went in for a gukbap by myself, and all the emotions started to kick in. I thought about how everything changed. I was living apart from my grandparents because of my
Last spring break, I took some time to visit my grandparents. They once again brought me to a gukbap place, saying “this is what Seungjoo likes the most.” Even though my tastes changed a bit, gukbap was still delicious. Things come and go, but the memory I have with all the street foods that my grandparents fed me will stay. I do not know whether I’ll go back to Seoul after Northwestern, but I do know that revisiting these places always fill me up with the emotions and the nostalgic tastes of the past.
country within a
The impact of one supermaket on the Fillipino community.
coun try. I never liked Filipino food as a child. Growing up in rural Illinois, exposure to my family’s culture came sparingly; when my friends all ate hamburgers and hot dogs, it was hard to find a connection to adobo and sinigang. My inability to embrace my people’s food made me feel like I wasn’t truly Filipino for a large portion of my life. This feeling of disconnect from the Philippines is all too common in Filipino-American children. In the Chicago area, however, this doesn’t have to be the case. Enter Seafood City. This supermarket chain uses Filipino food, produce and goods to create a hub for Filipino culture within its walls. Ever since it opened its Chicago branch in 2016, Seafood City has drawn in all sorts of people looking to connect with the Philippines, from immigrants looking for something to remind them of home to parents introducing their children to the food they grew up eating.
by Sophia Lo
photos by Coco Huang
When you enter Seafood City, you’ll immediately see a food court. One stand’s menu advertises egg rolls known as lumpiang shanghai that are deep fried to a golden brown. Shoppers at each long table dig into the thin fried noodles of pancit and pungent marinated chicken of adobo. At the center of a buffet table sits lechon, a whole roast pig which many customers will recognize from countless Filipino parties. Towards the store’s entrance is a statue of a red-and-white cartoon bee, which Filipinos will recognize as the Jollibee mascot. Jollibee, a popular fast food restaurant, serves Filipino versions of Western dishes. While the chain has over 1000 locations in the Philippines, only 34 are open in the U.S. Jollibee’s most famous dish, Chickenjoy, is prepared with a secret marinade that makes it uniquely light and crispy. Jolly Spaghetti is made in Filipinostyle, with hot dogs and beef swimming in its sweet, banana-ketchup flavored sauce. Fried chicken and spaghetti might be easy to find in America, but empty seats at Jollibee are rare as customers flock to the restaurant to get their fix. Further into the supermarket, the aroma of chicken gives way to the scent of freshly baked bread. Red Ribbon Bakeshop and Valerio’s Tropical Bakeshop, two Filipino bakery chains, have locations in Seafood City. The shelves of these stores display baked goods such as pandesal, a light, fluffy bread roll served with breakfast, ensaymada, a pastry made with sugar and cheese and puto, a steamed rice cake. Katrina Chan, who currently lives in Indiana, said these baked goods are difficult to get where she lives. “We have people who can make those, so we order, but only a few people,” Chan said. “Or we go on Google and just do it on our own, but it’s still different.” Pandesal isn’t the only Filipino product that is uncommon in the U.S. Walking through the store’s aisles, goods such as spiced vinegar, banana ketchup and fish paste line the
definitely changed the way that I perceived cuisine, because I forgot that there was more to life than adobo, pancit and lumpia.”
store’s shelves. Northwestern sophomore Marcianni Morillo, who was born in the Philippines, says the difficulty of finding ingredients such as these limits the variety of Filipino food that can be prepared in an American kitchen. “I remember going home over the summer, and my Titas would make these dishes that I forgot were big in my region,” Morillo said. “It definitely changed the way that I perceived cuisine, because I forgot that there was more to life than adobo, pancit
“Food is what brings people together in Filipino culture,” Duragos says. “When you go buy groceries at Seafood City, you’re exposed to these aspects of your identity, so you don’t feel weird when you do talk about being Filipino,” Duragos says. Seafood City’s impact isn’t just limited to Filipino-Americans who are out of touch with their heritage. Duragos, who grew up in the Philippines, said she recognized snacks from her childhood when she first walked into the supermarket. “I remember my grandma would pack these snacks in my little lunch bag for school ,” she says. “Seeing these cookies and treats I used to eat as a kid, I get really emotional. They’re small details in memories from my childhood, but I strongly associate these places, experiences and emotions with those little childhood treats.” Customer Xena Perez stopped by at Seafood City specifically for Jollibee during a visit to Chicago. She said that as a child, Jollibee was a special reward whenever she accomplished something. Interning in Vermont, however, Perez is unable to eat at Jollibee—in fact, she couldn’t find any Filipino food. She says she misses adobo and sinigang and that she’s tired of her diet, which mostly consists of “burgers, fries and tenders.”
and lumpia.” For the Filipino-Americans who are unable to visit the Philippines, however, a limited view of Filipino food can create a disconnect from Filipino culture. Since Filipino culture is, as Morillo puts it, “revolved around food,” developing an appreciation for Filipino cuisine allows Filipino-Americans to connect with their heritage. Northwestern freshman Primlouise Duragos thinks having a space like Seafood City enables Filipino-Americans to grow closer to Filipino culture through food.
Across the country, Filipino food is difficult to find. Asian cuisine is the fastest-growing food in the world according to the Washington Post, but Duragos feels Filipino food is left out of this trend. “Filipino food is never really considered when people say, ‘I love Asian food,’” she says. “It’s never in the conversation.” At Seafood City, however, Filipino snacks line the shelves; Filipino dishes comprise the menus, and Filipino people sit at the tables. Morillo says the large gathering of Filipinos makes the supermarket’s environment feel “comfortable.”
“It’s nice to see faces that look similar to yours, and it just feels like a little piece of the Philippines,” Morillo says. “Especially since in the Chicago area specifically, there isn’t really a tangible community of Filipino Americans, like how there’s Chinatown.” The community at Seafood City does not end at food. Visitors will often see lively bingo games played in the middle of the store. The emcee addresses each player by name before shouting out the store’s cashiers. At the food court, families sit together talking for hours on end. Morillo says her family feels welcome to stay longer than they need to; after they finish buying their groceries, they always end up staying for dinner.“I feel like Seafood City
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allows for the opportunity to socialize with other Filipino-Americans, or take time out of your day and just feel comfortable in a space,” Morillo said. This all is not to say that Seafood City is perfect. Some customers complained that Seafood City was more expensive than other supermarkets, which Morillo ascribes to import taxes. It is also important to acknowledge the impact other establishments have had on the preservation of Filipino culture in the Chicago area. Notably, UniMart One Stop Shopping has sold Filipino groceries in Chicago since 1996—20 years before Seafood City opened its Chicago location.
Despite this, Seafood City remains important as a symbol of the Philippines in America. Because above all else, Seafood City is vibrant. The aromas of freshly baked pandesal and ensaymada draw in Filipinos from hundreds of miles away. At Jollibee, immigrants eat the same crispy fried chicken and sweet spaghetti they loved as kids, while their children ask for a second order to take home. Lolas stroll the aisles and gather the ingredients for traditional Filipino dishes. These sights, smells and flavors are enjoyed by families and groups of friends. “It’s not just food,” Duragos says. “There’s also people who look like you and people who speak the same language that you speak.
There will be Filipino music blasting – you can’t find that anywhere else! Even if you don’t understand it, it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s really from my culture. I’m really in this space.’” I still have a complicated relationship with my heritage, but at Seafood City, I feel like I’m not alone. The things I see at the supermarket feel familiar to me – I hear the “o’s,” “ah’s” and “ng’s” of Tagalog that my parents spoke around the house. I smell the pandesal that my mom and I would buy from a man on a bicycle at dawn during trips to the Philippines. I eat the lechon that was served at so many parties when I was young. And though I’ve always felt a disconnect from the Philippines, one thing is certain: at Seafood City, I feel like I belong.
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introducing YouTube channel Korean Englishman has gained an online presence for introducing people in the U.K. to South Korean culture. The channel’s popular series focuses on the channel’s duo Josh and Ollie bringing friends and family to Korea for food and cultural excursions. However, I’ve always felt like Josh fell short in introducing one thing: 반찬 (banchan). While the giant slab of meat cooking on the grill often takes center stage on Josh and Ollie’s videos, banchan sets up the meal and prepares you for what’s to come. Josh’s mom is not necessary wrong in calling banchan “those little side dish thingies,” as banchans are side dishes meant to supplement the meal.
Anchovies (멸치볶음): In this dish, anchovies are stir-fried in soy sauce and other seasonings for a combination of sweet and spicy. While a bowl of stirredfried anchovies may look off-putting to some, they are coated in suger and various types of nuts like almonds or peanuts so that it’s hard to pick up only one at a time. I once tried to get my teacher to have a bite, but she was too afraid of how the little anchovies looked. While her reaction is quite common for first-timers, the crunchy texture of anchovies with a satisfying mix of sweet and spicy makes it difficult to refuse.
Kimchi (김치): A quintessential Korean side dish, kimchi is often made from fermented cabbage and various seasonings based on spicy red chilli powder, garlic and ginger. Nonetheless, there are many varieties: 백김치(baek-kimchi), white kimchi made without the spicy flavor; 동치미(dongchimi), radish water kimchi known as a refresher; 깍두기(kkakdugi), cube-shaped kimchi made from radish. In any Korean restaurant, at least one variety is bound to come out as a side dish. At a young age, my mom would wash kimchi in water to make it less spicy for me. Eating out in Korean restaurants, I would always watch my family asking for multiple kimchi refills. My dad would sometimes say, “Wouldn’t this taste better if we had kimchi on the side?”
by Agnes Lee However, banchan should not be written off just as “thingies, ” although by definition, banchan are small side dishes served before the main meal or together with cooked rice. Banchan have a huge variety, functioning as the essential part of a meal no matter how good the main course tastes. As Thrillist puts, “they represent a category unto themselves: snacks-within-ameal that function as complements, contrasts, and condiments all at once.” The best part about banchan is its ability to taste different in every restaurant and home. There’s not just a single way to make it as they are so customizable. Here are some banchan that are commonly served at restaurants but also act as my personal mementos.
Braised Beef (장조림): By far, jangjorim is my favorite banchan, and it’s the one I always ask my mom to make for me when coming back home from school. My mom has mentioned the preparation is a long process as beef has to marinate in soy sauce and soften. Nonetheless, the meat tastes very sweet but is complemented with the bowl of rice it should be served with.While these four dishes cannot say everything about the variety that banchan holds, they represent a few of the common categories of banchan: bbokkem(볶음), stir-fry; namul(나물), seasoned vegetables; jorim(조림), food boiled down in seasonings. With all that is out there such as jot-gal(젓갈), or fermented seafood, it’s definitely an ongoing challenge to try to have as many banchan you can.
Soybean Sprouts (콩나물무침): The soybean sprouts side dish is also made by cooking the vegetable in soy sauce and spicy red chili powder. However, as mentioned before, the banchan is still customizable and different seasonings are easily added. In fact, the similar seasonings make the flavor reminiscent of kimchi. The cooking even makes the root a softer texture to bite into, while the yellow portion differs with its harder texture.
all that and dim sum
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by Natalie Lin
issue #26 food | 47
2.letter from the editor 3.table for one? 6.authenticity in the midwest 10.spill or fill 13.an nu search for comfort food 18.an asian american family and their food 24.more than korean-american 32.love languages and food 35.from jongro to gangnam 38.country within a country 44.introducing banchan 46.all that and dimsum