Do you know kimchi, Korean pickle? Well you should do, because apparently quite a large number of people in this world claim that they cannot live without it, even in outer space. Kimchi is widely available in Japan – indeed, many supermarkets have whole shelves devoted to the stuff – but it tends to be mass-produced, and on the mild and sweet side, unlike the fiery hot stuff consumed in Korea. Until recently I’d never tried the real stuff before.
A couple of months ago I started tutoring a bunch of Korean kids in a working class district in Osaka. I go there every Wednesday evening, and although I like the work, frankly I don’t make a lot of money for my efforts. The kids try their hardest. Their tired parents – most of whom work in factories – come and pick them up at 7pm. They are very grateful to me, and they show it by giving me small gifts every week, mainly of food. Last week I was given a beautiful fruit cake and a jar of home-made kimchi. When I got home, I sacrified the cake to Sonbeam (what choice did I have? When do I ever have a choice?) and reluctantly sampled the kimchi with rice for dinner. What a lovely surprise I got! It was the real deal, hot and spicy, none of this pussified Japanese stuff. In fact, it was so good that if I had a mind to sell it here in Kobe, I would probably make a lot of money.
According to research, kimchi has multitudes of health benefits. But that’s not the reason I eat it. I just really like the stuff. You should give it a try.