Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Little Spice is Super Nice!

Coffee with my friend, Youngju, a new arrival from Korea here in South Africa, always produces at least a thousand laughs - ranging from glooooorious little giggles to giant guffaws! How perfectly universal is the shared blessing of the human laugh!
Amy Tan
Youngju's sister makes (and sells!) her own kimchi. While we were having coffee at the little deli down the road from Layla's school, she jumped up to catch the manager to find out whether her order of Chinese cabbages had arrived. And, the flabbergasted delight on her face when I asked if it was for kimchi -- because I actually knew about something belonging to her and her roots -- reminded me of just how universal, just as smiles are, that alienating, lonely, misunderstood state of being a foreigner. To clarify: not merely a foreigner travelling through another country on an adventure, but a foreigner who has moved into an alien land and is trying to send down roots, and settle into a happy sort of limbo between belonging within their new, adopted culture and retaining the sense of their cultural own roots and original identity that is cradled in their mother country. (I first learnt about kimchi from reading novels written by Korean authors -- most notably and affectionately, Amy Tan. Nicely appropriate for this particular post, her novels are set within the expat paradigm of the Korean living in America.)

Kimchi can loosely be likened to a fabulously spicy and exciting sort of sauerkraut. It is essentially pickled and brined cabbage - but spiced up to the nines with red chilli! Orangey-red in colour (no doubt from the red chilli?!) it is literally exploding with vitamins -- and fibre -- making it one of the world's healthiest foods!

Kimchi is made of various vegetables and contains a high concentration of dietary fiber, while being low in calories. One serving also provides over 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and carotene. Most types of kimchi contain onions, garlic, and chilli peppers, all of which are salutary. The vegetables being made into kimchi also contribute to the overall nutritional value. Kimchi is rich in vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron,[13][14] and contains a number of lactic acid bacteria, among those the typical species Lactobacillus kimchii.[15][16][17] Health magazine named kimchi in its list of top five "World's Healthiest Foods" for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth.[18]
Love the uber-South African tray
holding the plate of sushi (which
I VERY happily sampled at 10am this
Youngju's sister and her mom were outside in the garden this morning, peeling a literal truckload of garlic (see pic.) (Reminding me of yet another expat experience ---- when my Indian friend, Navjot, cooked me up my own personal storm of curries in London where I was handed my very own rollertowel to mop up my tears and what(s)not!) I've asked Young to teach me how to make kimchi --- and upon her agreeing, I was told  it would take an entire day! Well, why the hell not?! When we can squeeze this day of slicing, dicing 'n spicing into our mommy-full days, I'll definitely be posting back here about it.

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