Videologue #14 Generations of Kimchi

Halmonee; My Beautiful Tiger Grandmother

Halmonee means grandmother in Korean.

Born to young graduate student parents, busy with studies and preparations for getting ready to start their study abroad for the next few years, I was raised by my Halmonee until I was 2, during the baby days I still lived in Korea. She is actually my 1 and only cheerleader in my life. You would think it should be my mom or dad or my husband, but nothing to worry about, they have other important roles in my life. My small beautiful, strong, vain, proud Halmonee is my cheerleader. Since the minute I was born to this moment for 37 years. Since she was in her late 40’s to her mid 80’s. Her body and voice has recently become frail but her spirit and her cheers do not know how to weaken, she still roars for me. I just love she is the only person in my family who takes my side up to dangerously irrational extents.. if I let her!

Homemade Kimchi; 2 days of November

She is also my hero. She was my hero to teach me how to make kimchi in my early newlywed years. Deciding to keep the homemade kimchi tradition going strong from my own hands saving my life in some aspect?

I am sure nobody understands this. Even so I am not planning to go into personal depressing unchangeable details of my life… but the conclusions is that if it was not for learning kimchi from my grandmother at that specific time, I am 100 percent sure, I would not have my lovely family of 5. Ridiculously dramatic as it sounds is, it is true. I never expected to find immature ridiculous drama waiting for me in my adult part of life, but maybe every person has a different speckle of gruesome fate, or a different destructive monster in their life that is always ready to pounce on your self confidence. And really, especially after you start your own family you are barely holding on to that thing called self confidence, so it was a cruel fate to welcome into my life. For 10 years I grasped on to the tiniest hope that the whole what seemed to be getting more complicated every year would somehow miraculously evolve for the better, but recently I realized some realities are like the sun and the moon and the mountains and the ocean. They are meant to be unbudging. For some unearthly reason God made certain things or people like that. It is something that I must coexist with and learn to ignore like allergies, because other than that 1 thing, I feel I have all the reason only to be perfectly happy.  With that recent realization, I also realized that my Halmonee was a true SUPER hero in my life. Weirdly enough, knowing how to make Kimchi kept me away from more unnecessary damage.

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(2011 Look at my big boy when he was 2… he was such a cutie..)

You just can’t master homemade kimchi making in your first experience, there is no homemade kimchi crash course you can take. In Korea since we have a precise season for kimchi making which is the month of November, you want to wait a year to get the next lesson. Well you could make kimchi any time of the year but we wouldn’t have the top quality fresh seasonal ingredients which are a vast range from vegetables to seasoning to seafood that are available in Novembers golden time for homemade Kimchi.

November is already freezing in Korea, and my Halmonee with her low blood pressure and sensitive heart conditions, it is not her favorite season to walk around the huge outdoor seafood and vegetable wholesale markets and work 2 days through the homemade kimchi labor. She knew she would be sore after 2 days of directing the kimchi making at my home every year, but she was proud and enjoyed every minute of staying at my home those 2 days of November for the years I call my first founding years of my family back in Korea. Making kimchi, playing with my babies, and telling my husband Mr.B the story of her life every minute she could spare. My husband says he can write her biography now, with even details of her sleeping habits which she of course did not forget to leave out….Ha! He was so sweet to sit patiently always smiling and letting her finish her stories when she could get a grab of him.

(2013 Look at my London when she was a baby! I can’t help myself but to interrupt…)IMG_1268IMG_1272IMG_1291IMG_1270IMG_1312

 

Kimchi Rewards for my Halmoni

Here is her gold medal moment of her Kimchi passion, the kimchi making at our home starts at about 11 minutes and 40 seconds;

link: The Hairy Bikers – South Korea Part 2

bbcgrandma( 2013….and this was also the day I found out I was expecting Olivia)

A few years back the Harry Bikers, a food program for BBC wanted a young family making their own homemade kimchi, learned from generations and generations of kimchi makers before them, which was just us. It was her moment to shine, and I am proud to have been able to giver her a kimchi medal moment in her life.

In San Diego we don’t have a kimchi season at all. We don’t have the elaborate vast majority of kimchi fresh ingredients exploding into our supermarkets in 1 particular season so we there is no need to make a whole year’s batch of kimchi in 1 day. We only have the most basic ingredients for homemade kimchi, which is fine as long as you know how to make kimchi the most proper way, so we just make small batches of kimchi but make it more often, at least 4 times a year. Even with the smaller batch of Kimchi, I wouldn’t have had the courage to start my own Kimchi day in San Diego if it weren’t for my wonderful Halmonee, and the spartan kimchi sessions we had together.

I feel so lucky I made a decision on a whim to learn how to make my own homemade kimchi and called my Halmonee for help, the impulsive phone call on a miserable day made me the new vessel of our kimchi tradition in my family. I may not be able to move certain oceans and mountains, reform any destructive things that come and go as they wish  but I can become stronger by learning to move around these things God has dropped onto my life that I was meant to live in.

New traditions (←link) I have made for my family to celebrate our christian beliefs, and a homemade kimchi tradition that has been passed on to me through the history of women in my Korean family. I Hope I am giving my children a big sense of pride in family culture and roots.

On Kimchi days, I feel her close to me, and the presence of the woman before her the generations of proud Korean kimchi makers in my family, they are all probably looking down more often on my from the heavens since they found out their descendant is making kimchi in San Diego! I hope they are looking down and praying for us from skies closer by to us, the beautiful skies of San Diego!  Thank you my strong Halmoni!

CHEERS!

pork feast on kimchi making day
pork feast on kimchi making day

유학준비 중이었던 대학원생 부모에게 태어나 나는 2살때까지 외할머니가 키워주셨다. 내 신생아 시절부터 현재까지 유일무이한 내 인생의 치어리더는 우리 외할머니다. 엄마나 아빠나 남편이 그 역할을 해주지 않는 것에 대해 걱정 마시고, 그들 그들대로 굉장히 중요한 역할들 하나씩 굵직하게 잡고 있다. 자아와 자부심이 쎄고, 강한 인격자인 미녀 출신 우리 외할머니. 40대후반부터 지금 80대 중반이 되실때까지, 몸은 많이 약해지셨을지라도 나를 향한 소망과 응원과 격려는 여전히 열정적이시다. 나를 위해서 위험한 수위에 이르기까지 비이성적으로 내 편을 들어 줄 수 있는 존재가 있다는 것은 참 행복한 사실이다.

최근에 깨달은 것이 있다. 외할머니는 내 영웅이기도 하다는 것. 김치 전수가 나를 구해줬다고…. 하면 정말 오바라 생각할 수 있지만, 구체적인 과거사를 굳이 여기에까지 밝히지 않겠지만, 그 말 그대로가 맞다. 김치와 김장은 내 인생에 크게 상징적인 것이 되었다. 병이자 약. 김치를 배웠기에 나는 지금만큼 강하지 못했던 시기에 무너질 수 있는 상황들을 피해 올 수 있었고, 현재 우리가 5인 가족이 되기까지 행복수위가 유지 될 수 있었던 것도, 특정 상황들을 다행히 피해갔기 때문이다. 참 극단적이고 드라마틱한 말의 전개들이지만, 나도 몰랐다. 내가 성인기에 들어서서 초등학교에서나 펼쳐질 유치하고 말도 안되는 드라마틱함이 내 삶에 펼쳐질지는 몰랐지만. 사람마다 그들의 삶에 불쾌한 운명 조각이 하나 낑겨 있기는 할 것이라 믿는다. 그래도 근 10년간 언젠가는 뭔가가 개선되는 날이 올 것이라는 희망을 가졌지만, 최근의 깨달음이 있었다. 세상에는 해와 달과 바다와 산과 같은 것들이 있다, 무슨 이유에서든지 하나님은 세상의 어떤 것들은 꿈쩍도 하지 않도록 만들었다는 것이다. 어짜피 피할 수도 변할 수도 없는 것이라면, 알러지와 같은 것이라 생각하며, 함께 공존하며 크게 좌지우지 되지 말아야하는 방법을 배워야한다는 것. 내 인생을 둘러보면 그 외의 많은 것은 행복한 일들일 뿐이기 때문에 나는 그것을 인내심을 갖고 배우기로 했다. 더 늦기 전에 깨달아 다행이라 생각하며, 이런 깨달음 덕분에 김치를 전수 받았다는 것이 얼마나 중요한 역할을 해왔구나 싶어 외할머니는 나에게 영웅. 이 말은 해도 해도 또 하고 싶은 말이다.

김치는 쪽집게 괴와 받듯이 배울 수 없고, 벼락치기로도 더더욱 배울 수 없는 것 같다. 한국에서는 모든 재료가 다양하게 많고 신선한 김장철이 있기 때문에 제대로 배우고 싶다면 김치는 더더욱 김장철에만 배우고 싶은 법. 11월이면 이미 한겨울인 한국, 저혈압과 심장이 예민하신 외할머니는 김장철에 야외 재래시장을 걸어다니며 김장을 위해 장보는 일이 쉽지 않으시고, 김장 노동을 이틀간 하기 위해 우리 집으로 오는 것이 쉽지 않으셨을텐데 매년 11월, 손녀딸과 함께 하는 김장 이틀간은 외할머니에게는 그저 자랑스럽고 행복한 날들이었다. 지나가는 Mr.B, 배서방을 붙들고, 당신의 잠습관까지지 알려주시는 외할머니의 디테일한 인생스토리를 읊어주시는  즐거움 또한, 외할머니 김장날의 락이셨다. 외할머니의 자사전을 엮어드릴 수 있다고 하는 Mr.B의 진담 섞인 농담, 전혀 과장 없는 말이라는것 나는 안다.  참 착하다 Mr.B, 예의 차리며 웃으며 외할머니의 인생 스토리를 끝까지 앉아 들어준 남편의 사랑스러운 모습에 나는 항상 고맙다.

열정적으로 우리 집에 김치를 나눠 주셨던 할머니에게 김치를 배우기고 결심한 덕분에 할머니에게 김치 훈장과 같은 시간을 드릴 수 있게 됐다. 몇년전 영국 BBC 방송국 HARRY BIKERS 프로그램에서 대대로 김치 레서피를 이어받아 김치를 담궈 먹는 젊은 가족을 찍고 싶어했다. 우리 가족이 딱 적격이었고, 할머니는 그 프로그램 속에서도 자랑스러운 존재로 소개 되었다.

샌디에고는 김장철도 없거니와, 재료도 다양하지 않아서 가장 기본적인 재료로 조금씩 자주 해먹는다. 양을 줄여 한다 할지라도, 1년에 4-5번은 담궈 먹는 김치는 할머니와의 시간이 없었다면 엄두가 나지 않았을 것이다.

8년전쯤 우울해서 어찌해야할지 모르겠는 날 즉흥적으로 할머니에게 전화 드려 김장을 가르쳐달라고 부탁한 날, 기쁘게 그 부탁을 들어주신 외할머니 덕분에 나는 지금 우리 5인 가족이 존재한다고 생각한다. 내가 바꿀 수 없는 현실이 있고, 꿈쩍도 안하는 산과 바다같은 현실이 있을지라도 나는 그 현실 안에서 더 힘있게 움직이는 법을 배우게 된 것은 분명하고, 그 과정 중에 할머니는 내 영웅이 되어주셨다.

김치 담궈 먹는 날이면, 할할머니가 가까이에 있는 것만 같은 기분이든다. 할머니 뿐만 아니라, 조상이라는 말이 떠오른다. 우리 집안에 대대로 김치를 담궈 먹었던 할머니의 할머니들, 그들이 모두 하늘에서 나를 지켜봐주시고 기도해주시고 있는 따뜻함이 느껴지고 힘을 주시고 있는 것 같다. 그리고, 이왕이면 깨끗하고 아름다운 샌디에고 하늘에서 나를 내려다봐주시고 있길 바라는 마음! 가까운 하늘에서 나를 내려다주시는 그 따뜻하고 안전한 기분.. 김장날이면 시대를 초월한 가족의 힘이 느껴진다.

Author: lalaladaylight

About myself. I was a Child of Norcal. I marked my first blank sheets of life in a coddled dreamy university town reading, writing, drawing, and when I was not, ferociously rode my bike and sun bathed among the college and graduate students with beautiful minds. I lived half my childhood up in trees, had a free roaming little life that has become so rare in these times where I am raising my children. I suddenly became a teenager in Seoul Korea, where hearts were made to beat to pop culture and academic achievement… completely different and fascinating from what I had known to that moment. Toughness and a bit of spicy sass to withstand competition was the absolute cool. The blends of both lifestyles led me somehow to become a fashion major and afterwards a fashion PR girl in a most intoxicating fast moving Seoul fashion scene. Fell in love with the right guy, and after a few years somehow I find myself as a rookie at the Socal chill culture in San Diego. A Mama of 3 littles and supportive wife and best friend to my right guy in perfect beautiful San Diego. I am a collector, a never ending learner of all analogue and digital creative crafts and hobbies. I am a visual and lyrical story teller, telling intimate tales that generate from my table with my hungry loved one’s sitting by my side.

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