Chopped

When the reality of living with my father in Las Vegas temporarily without my mother finally hit me a few months ago, I realized that everyone else’s concerns regarding curfews, potential (though currently non-existent) boyfriends, and social decline were petty compared to what was constantly on my mind.

“How are we going to eat!?”

Consider this. I was working a job with slavish hours that had physically exhausted me to the point where I felt like cheese and crackers and scrambled eggs were both fine choices for dinner. My dad, on the other hand, had the culinary expertise of boiling dumplings, heating up ramen, and making scrambled eggs (I got it from him). That being said, we had to do something about our dining dilemma – our house was located in an emptier part of town, so as my dad put it, we “could die here, and nobody will know. FOR DAYS!” With Papa Kim having the luxury of working from the comforts of our own home, however, he was given the mandatory opportunity for the post of Household Iron Chef.

Surprisingly enough, Papa Kim managed to find his way with a knife and wok, and we were able to break bread nightly with no kitchen mishaps at all. It didn’t take me long to learn that my dad had a great love for ginger either. We had ginger-infused cabbage, green beans with ginger, tofu garnished with ginger – until finally, I just had to ask.

Me: Dad. Is this supposed to taste like ginger?
My dad: I put a little ginger in.
Me: I think there might be more than a little ginger in.
My dad: Oh, really? Hmm. Okay, maybe next time I will just add less ginger in.

It turned out that Papa Kim was under the impression that ginger was supposed to go in EVERYTHING. In consulting with Mama Kim about the correct apportionment of the ingredients, he received this less-than-enthused response from the Kim family kitchen goddess.

“Oh. You’re not supposed to put ginger in that dish.”

As my dad got more and more comfortable around the stove, he even mentioned, “You know what? I don’t think cooking is that hard after all!”

My dad: How exactly are you supposed to chop an onion?
Me: I usually slice it close to the core up and down, then left and right, and finally turn the onion on its side to cube it all.
My dad: Oh. I didn’t know that. I just ended up grabbing a second knife and chopping everything up with both hands because it got too messy.

To his credit, my dad has  more than five hairs on his head, but I don't know how to draw good hair.

To his credit, my dad has more than five hairs on his head, but I don’t know how to draw good hair. And yes, in the spirit of kitchen-ness, this was drawn on a paper towel.

So when Mama Kim stopped by for a quick home check on the two of us one weekend, I remembered the onions when passing by La Bonita, a Mexican supermarket in the area.

Me: Oh, the produce here is really cheap. Sometimes you can get up to 20 pounds of onions for $1!
My dad: What can you do with 20 pounds of onions!?
My mom: You can practice chopping.

Several days later, my dad had a new epiphany.

“You know what, I don’t think I actually enjoy cooking that much.”