Like Mother, Like Daughter

Last night, I flew home from WashU. Despite landing around 11 PM, my mom and I stayed up till 2 AM talking.

The next day, I woke up around 12 (which I have never done and was surprised I could even accomplish this level of “college student”) and drove to the mall to do some damage with my mom. On the way back home, I told my mom about this blog and decided to ask her what her favorite meal was. 

To my surprise, she said mandu. If you don’t know this already, my favorite food happens to be my grandma’s mandu, which are similar to dumplings in appearance but not at all in taste. (You can read more about mandu’s here)

When asking her why, here is what she responded with:

“Mandus are, in general, really tasty, especially your grandma’s. I’ve eaten them for so long. You know Grandpa used to run a big rubber factory. Back in those days, around winter time, no one could really afford to spend money on good, hearty meals unless you were the boss. So, Grandpa would invite his workers to the house during the winter time and feed them. Grandma would spend all day cooking in the cold “kitchen” and prepared the best meats (some context. I am from Korea and my grandparents lived during an era where we didn’t have kitchens nor did they live in western-style houses. they lived in a house that was a combo of a traditional Korean house and western-style. So, they didn’t have the typical kitchen and instead had a separate room in the house that served as the cooking area. Usually, this was a really cold room because it acted as a storage room for all the foods in the winter time).

traditional outhouse kitchen

The thing I remember the most from these dinners were Grandma sitting in the cold hand-making thousands of little mandus. She would prepare so much good food. Mandus are really tasty and there’s so much rich history behind them, especially with Grandma’s. But I remember these dinners so vividly.”

I knew my mom loved mandus, because she would always make them for me and end up eating most of them. Seriously, she could eat them for a straight week and not get tired of them. I love mandus, because they act as one of the few connections I have with my family in North Korea. They are comforting and remind me of home- both Korea and America. My mom’s are a bit spicier, while my grandma’s are a bit milder and taste (as cliche as it is) like they are made with care, precision, love. There’s a word in Korean 구수하다, which kind of means “deep, rich flavor.” It’s used to describe delicious foods that often has a lot of depth to it, both in flavor (connotatively) and history. It’s hard to directly translate it, but that’s the general jist. This word perfectly describes my grandma’s mandu.

It’s funny my mom’s favorite food is mine as well. Like mother, like daughter, I hope I can one day pass this recipe onto my kids.

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