Food and Families

Whew--today was crazy. I had to turn in my big monthly report for work and the baby kept waking up early from his naps. I just got my report finished, though. Yay!

Today I was thinking about some of the foods I ate as a kid. My mom is Korean and is a great cook of both Korean and American food, but some of the quick meals we would eat growing up could be kindly described as "fusion cuisine." Some were her idea, some were the ideas of my older siblings, and I think some were entirely my invention. Most of them included either kimchi or the West's greatest gift to Asia: SPAM! (I just checked with N. to see how SPAM was capitalized and he recommended all caps because "SPAM is too big of a food for little letters.")

Anyway, here are some of the weird foods I remember from my childhood:

Cream of Wheat with kimchi: My mom would make Cream of Wheat for breakfast in the wintertime and we would eat it with radish kimchi. It wasn't until I went to college that I realized that most people who eat Cream of Wheat sweeten it like oatmeal--my mom only put a little bit of salt in it. I think this dish still holds up because the Cream of Wheat was essentially a stand-in for rice and it was a nice savory alternative to oatmeal.

Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup with rice mixed in and kimchi and pan-fried SPAM on the side: Another hot breakfast for wintertime. The SPAM went well with the soup and rice, and the spicy kimchi would cut through the saltiness of the soup and spam.

Rice with SPAM, kimchi, and gim (dried seaweed): This still ranks pretty high on my list of great home-cooked lunches. It's pretty much perfect. If I cook it N. will eat it too, but only after he complains about the smell of the fried SPAM.

Plain Dduk (pressed rice cake) with Pace Picante Sauce: when I was in elementary school, I would make this snack for myself after school. I think one of my older siblings probably taught me how, but I can't remember. I would put the dduk in a plastic bag and add a couple tablespoons of water, twist the bag shut, put it on a plate, and microwave it for a minute or so. This would kind of steam the dduk and soften it up and it would be all warm and kind of gooey. Then I would dip it into the salsa and eat it. Yeah, pretty weird, I know. Did we not have tortilla chips in the house? But to this day, when I smell Pace Picante Sauce, my mouth starts watering and I can almost taste it the dduck.

These other two have nothing to do with Korean food and are just weird.

Bagels with margarine and garlic powder: I would warm up onion Lender's bagels, spread margarine on them, and then sprinkle garlic powder on the top. Obviously I was not too concerned with bad breath as a kid.

Microwaved marshmallows: I would put two or three jumbo marshmallows on a plate and microware them for a minute or so, watching them inflate and puff up. Then I would swirl them around with a fork until they were kind of the consistency of taffy and eat them. I had to be sure to rinse off the plate well afterwards or else the marshmallow dried hard as a rock and was a pain to wash.

Well, I'm sure there are more, but I think those are the standouts. The reason this topic came up today was that my lunch today was one of the dishes I listed--l'll leave exactly which one it was to your imagination.

I ate some weird things as a kid, but at least I ate them in the normal way. Not like the family in this SNL sketch that N. sent me a link to today.

How about you? Did you eat any weird foods as a kid?

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