Can you tell us what we have made here today?
Well we’ve prepared Spam and Ramen! There's also Kimchi that my mom made from scratch.
Alright, let’s try some!
(We take our chopsticks and take pieces of spam and put it into the Ramen)
So tell me a bit about your home.
Well, I’ve moved around a lot. I was born in New Jersey and then I moved to Korea and then afterwards I went to Cali and then after that I went to singapore and then finally I moved back to New Jersey where I was at until I started college at RISD!
Woa,h that’s a lot of moving.
Yeah but despite that, my home was still deeply attached to its Korean roots. We’re actually the only part of my family that live outside of Korea. I still visit there year to year.
You need a fork? (watching me use chopsticks)
No thanks. I’m good. So can you tell me what about this meal reminds you of home?
It’s just something that we would eat after school when we’re hungry. It’s not like my mom wasn’t around to make food but this was a staple and all the ramen comes in different flavors!
And this one is your favorite?
Yeah its the most popular one too. It’s something like that as a family we’d eat together. How do you like it?
It’s good. I really love spicy food.
What’s really interesting is that I would get this same brand of noodles in singapore but it wasn’t the same. It was more greasy as opposed to spicy which makes it not as good as the Korean one.
(I cough as spice gets stuck in my throat)
Did you try the spam?
I’ll try it now.
(Picks up a piece of spam with chopsticks and eats a piece)
It's really salty.
Okay so spam is big in Korean culture because of the war there. You know how the US helped Korea?
Yeah though its probably still better than how they ate it back then which was cold.
I’m curious, is there anything stronger than food that reminds you of home?
Nah it’s definitely food.
Well you moved around a lot so are there foods that remind you of all of those other homes?
(nods) In Singapore it’s authentic Singaporean food or in Cali its In-and-Out burger. My family is obsessed with it!
What’s your favorite of all these foods?
It’s probably chili crab, which I can make. It’s a Singaporean dish.
But New Jersey is still the place you consider home right?
Eh, not really. I think as long as I’m with my family, it’s home. That’s why we moved around a lot. We wanted to stay together as my dad’s job moved him around a lot.
Where do you see your home…
being in the future?
Probably in New Jersey and commuting to New York. I really feel that’s where I’m going to be. I mean maybe Cali but probably New Jersey and I’ll probably commute to New York so I can be home with my family.
I take it that family is very important in Korean culture.
Yeah it is. I would say its one of the biggest values of Korean culture like we have holidays where its to meet all of the family.
So it seems like your family has done well to keep Korean culture as a big part of your life. Have you ever felt disconnected from it since you grew up in America?
I don't think it was an issue. It was more of my family didn't understand American customs and that was a little hard but it became easy as time went on.
Now adding onto that, you're also first generation, correct?
Did you ever have any struggles because of that?
I mean, like I said, my family sometimes didn't understand American culture otherwise no. Though I do remember when I came back I was put in third grade and I didn't speak english that well so all the kids were so mean towards me because of it!
Like I remember sitting down with my mom and she'd have to help me learn how to say the work "Responsibility" because of how hard it used to be for me.
Aw! That's so sad. I'm sorry to hear that but yeah kids are the worst in school.
It's fine now (laughs) but I totally agree with that.
Well I have one last thing to ask, did cooking this meal here today remind you of home?
Yes. All the fond memories of eating this food with my mom come back to me.
Alright, well thank you for being a part of A Heart's Meal!
Thank you so much! Have a good rest of your day.
This meal was made with Klaudia Ser (RISD J+M '16)
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