Monday Meal Review: North Korea

THE SCENE: My Happily Broken Heart

A broken heart occurs when two hearts joined in love tear apart. It could happen slowly or quickly, but like a wishbone, something has to give. If it’s a clean break, it wasn’t love. At least, not for a long time. Sometimes both hearts have a tear, other times just one. Lots of times it feels like a piece was left behind, permanently affixed to the heart of the other.

Keith has never broken my heart. Sure, we’ve had our disagreements but I’ve never once felt like he has pulled away enough to tear me up, to break my heart.

Ava, however, broke my heart the day she was born.

There she was, perfect, tiny and so wonderful. And there I was, completely awash with love.

Overwhelming love.

I wept as her tiny body struggled to take those first breaths of air. And then,there it was –  she relaxed – her eyes darted around, taking in the light – she was with the world. That’s when the tears came full force. You see, there was no safety net. My brand new daughter was now a member of the often scary, upsetting and mocking world. I knew there was no way to keep her glorious innocence free from worry or harm.

The reality of it broke my heart.

Many of you know Ava – and my love for her – is why I am here, cooking the world… cooking the world for peace. (I wrote about it briefly before.)

Bottom line: our children deserve to grow up in a world of tolerance and understanding. A world where everyone is invited to sit at the table – at a Global Table. No cliques here. We’re creating a world where we’re curious about the food of other cultures, not condemning. A world where we share smiles not frowns. A world where love is the answer to every question.

I thought about all of this when I cooked North Korea, as I carefully spooned the raw egg yolk over the rolled omelet, to form a heart. I smiled as the two pieces joined together, slowly setting under the low heat. I thought about how Ava’s simple existence has started a chain reaction – how she inspired my wish for a better world – and has in turn inspired people all around the world to try food from other cultures, bringing us all closer together.

A few moments later, I proudly walked over to Miss Ava, presenting her with the prize: one small omelet heart, filled with kimchi.

It was still warm. Quickly, she grabbed the heart and brought it to her mouth.

But, just before she took a bite, the pieces fell apart. The bond wasn’t as strong as it had looked. I was crushed – I’d wanted it to be perfect.

Without missing a beat, however, Ava laughed and ate the omelet anyway.

I tell you what, broken heart or not, that girl has been full of love from the beginning.


Rolled Egg Omelet w/ Kimchi (Gyeran mali) [Recipe]


What I liked most about this dish:

The rolled omelet is a lot easier to make than a French omelet – and much more forgiving. I also like that this is a fun way to put egg in Ava’s lunchbox, without messy scrambled eggs or boring boiled eggs. I’ve made this a few different ways and while kimchi is fun, if that’s a tad too adventurous for you, it’s just as good seasoned with green onion, parsley, and a bit of minced carrot. There’s no end to the possibilities, really. Just chop them extra small.

What I liked least about this dish:

While my first heart broke in two, I learned rather quickly how much egg was needed to make them stick. I would say that the flatter you can make your omelet, the better the curves of the heart will show up. This takes a little practice, but it’s nowhere as complicated as Jim’s Pancakes, so I definitely think you should give it a go.

Sweet Pumpkin porridge with rice balls & red beans [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

I love pumpkin and I love dumplings. The soup was a refreshingly different way to use up pumpkins. I would like to play around with this recipe and try out some different spices to punch it up a notch. I’m not sure what, but Mr Picky requested cinnamon. The entire experience is a blast of textural play – gelatinous/wet – something that seems typical of Asia, as we’ve already seen it in the (awesome) Japanese drink Espresso Jello IN evaporated milk.

What I liked least about this dish:

I am divided on this one – definitely feeling a  love/hate relationship with the rather gummy rice balls. At the end of the day, however, I felt that the texture was interesting and fun to chew on. Next time I’d make them teeny tiny, more like gnocchi (which, incidentally, is the closest thing I could think of for texture, although they are quite a bit softer). I think this might help Ava, t00 – she enjoyed the soup and beans but didn’t go near the rice balls  (I think because I cut hers smaller, making them look mashed and “weird”).

Ava’s Corner


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