Korean Karbs

When the Atkins diet first burst into popularity, it was the most hilarious thing my parents had ever heard. “Who in their right mind can cut out carbs from their life? No bread? No noodles? NO RICE!?” It was, to say the least, a huge joke.

As time progressed, however, this low-carb/no-carb baloney seemed to be more and more of a fixture in American culture. You know that the baguette has turned into Public Enemy #1 when it takes Oprah to convince you that eating bread is OK. And so unfolded another episode of cultural divide in our home.

Butter a Carb

My dad: “Have some Korean rice cake, Jamie. It’s so good.”
My sister: “It’s not healthy!”
My dad: “It’s just rice. We’ve been eating this for 5000 years!”

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Rice: both healthy AND historical

My dad: “You should only have five pieces though.”

Neither Here Nor There

The only thing better than shopping at Costco is shopping at Costco with a parent. I refuse to believe that I am the only young adult who conveniently coincides the need for bulk toilet paper, toothpaste, and almond milk with a visit from Mom and/or Dad.

IT JUST SO HAPPENED that on one of Mama Kim’s recent trips to see me, I was out of cotton rounds when she mentioned she would be stopping by Costco. After combing through the appropriate aisles high and low, we finally accepted that this item was simply just out of stock. Luckily for me, my mother was en route back to California not too long after, where she continued The Great Cotton Round Hunt in not one, not two, but three stores. At this point, I wasn’t too sure if the $0.73 per pack we would have saved would have still been worth our while had we found it anyway, but I thanked her for the effort, and said goodbye as she flew back to Taiwan.

A quick trip to Target allowed me to replenish my fizzling supply of the product and the issue was no longer a concern by the time my parents announced they were spontaneously flying to South Korea for a weekend getaway, several weeks after the initial search. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to a text message later from my mother, reading,

“There is a Costco here in Daegu, South Korea and they have cotton rounds! I bought some for you!”

Which would have been wonderful news, truly, if it weren’t for the tiny detail that she and the cotton rounds were only 6,000 miles away from me. Considering it would be some time before my mother came to the United States again, I decided to make peace with the fact that the elusive Costco cotton rounds and I were just not meant to be.

Some time passed and it wasn’t long before my sister was on vacation in Taiwan as well to visit relatives, my parents included. As I caught up with her one afternoon over FaceTime, she brought up something that quite frankly, had fallen off of my radar screen a while ago.

My sister: “Well I’m here for a week or so more, and then I will be flying back to Las Vegas. Can you pick me up from the airport, or will I have to take a taxi?”
Me: “If you don’t mind waiting about 20-30 minutes for me, I can pick you up as soon as I end work.”
My sister: “That’s great! Oh, by the way, Mom brought back a huge box of cotton rounds from her trip to Korea last month. Are these for you, and am I supposed to bring them back for you?”

Cotton rounds flown in from a Korean Costco: the most expensive ones I've ever used in my life

Cotton rounds flown in from a Korean Costco: the most expensive ones I’ve ever used in my life

Thank you, Mom. Now these are only 6,800 miles away. I believe we have officially left the zone of cost-effectiveness.

Dog Sitting Duty

A recent whirlwind of activity in our extended family had my father flying to South Korea and my mother being whisked off to Taiwan, so while the two of them were prancing through their respective motherlands, I returned home to care for their two pets: our dog Soba and my brother Dennis.

Pet #1: our mutt of a pooch Soba

Pet #1: our mutt of a pooch Soba

Upon my initial assessment of the living conditions of my 18-year-old hermano, I found that I could confidently report back to Mama and Papa Kim that the house was still very much livable and they had nothing to worry about in regards to the value of their home depreciating during their brief absence. The sink wasn’t overflowing, there was food in the refrigerator, and the house was otherwise still standing. As I started honing in on smaller details however, I realized that I was in the sequel of One and a Half Men, an earlier post about my dad and brother’s bachelor lifestyle sans Mama Kim.

First was his excellent choice in diet. When I came home, he was occupied with his new laptop in the living room, accompanied only by a single jar of Nutella. That’s it. No complex carbohydrates to accompany it, no spoon in sight, NOTHING.

Hello there, jar of Nutella creeping in the back

Hello there, jar of Nutella creeping in the back

I waved it off, figuring everybody knows about Nutella’s healing properties. As far as I was concerned, this was brilliant on my brother’s part while being home alone. A full jar of the stuff with no adult supervision? Well played. I moved onto the refrigerator, and as I was helping myself to some leftover spaghetti my mother had produced in mass quantities out of fear of my brother’s starvation, I froze at the sight of a large plastic glove lodged in the Tupperwared noodles.

Me: Um, hello sir. Are you aware that there is a plastic GLOVE in the spaghetti!?
My brother: Yes.
Me: Well, what is DOING in here?
My brother: Well (clears throat), by using the glove, I can scoop the noodles and then mix it together with the sauce without having to use utensils. It saves a lot of time, you know. You should try it!

I spy a glove in the midst of the spaghetti

A UFO: Unidentified Flimsy Object in the midst of the spaghetti

Whoever said technology is complicating modern times was obviously out of touch with the simple life hacks my brother had devised. As I pulled the pasta out from the microwave, Dennis was sweet enough to wish me, “Bon appetit!”

Hmm that’s weird, his enunciation must’ve been off because it came out sounding like, “By the way, I will not be doing the dishes for you.”

Como Você Está Senhor Kim?

The first time I took a sibling-less vacation with my father, I was two and en route to Macau with him. As soon as we boarded, I clipped my seat belt together, looked out the window, and solemnly announced that it’d been a great trip, all before taking off.

Over twenty years would pass before this type of only-child-like vacation would take place again, this time with my dad to his homeland of South Korea. Since that last journey to Macau, both of us had done a bit of traveling; him for business, and I for pleasure.

Hanging with my dad in Gwanghwanmun in Seoul, Korea

Hanging with my dad in Gwanghwanmun in Seoul, Korea

My dad: Now that you’ve visited a few places, what are some of your favorite cities?
Me: Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Berlin. I like it here in Seoul too. What about you?
My dad: Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai –
Me: I get it. You love Asia.
My dad: Is there anywhere else you want to go?
Me: Of course. I want to see more of Europe like London, Paris, and Rome and other parts of Asia. And Brazil.
My dad: You want to go to Rio de Niro, huh?
Me: …I want to visit Rio de Janeiro, the city. Not Robert de Niro, the actor.