Everyday I’m inundated with images and news stories about women’s rights violations, racial discrimination, totalitarianism, hate crimes and the degradation of civil liberties that has befallen on our neighbours to the south. My heart pounds most days with thunderous anger and empathy for those countless marginalized groups and individuals that have become victimized in America. How did a world-leading civilized nation end up on such a slippery slope of unraveling decades of progress in basic human rights?
Until recently, I felt proud of Canada more than ever. I believed that for the most part, Canadians were all about celebrating differences and diversity. I almost felt smug, thinking that we were immune to the atrocities happening in America.
I’m of Korean ethnicity but have been a Canadian citizen since I was an infant. I simultaneously feel connected to being both Canadian and Korean on a racial and cultural level. I don’t think about being “more Canadian” or “more Korean.” Nor is it something that’s discussed amongst my friends or peers. Rarely do I question my nationality or if I’m visibly different from other humans surrounding me. I’m a human being, period. And those around me are human beings too. However, every now and then, I’m reminded that not everyone shares this view. There are still the token few even in our great country of Canada who’s ignorance is blaring.
I had an encounter recently (which was not anywhere near the intensity of some of the horror stories out there), but it was a snapshot of some of the ignorance that lies quietly amongst us.
Last week I headed to my local grocer to pick up the black plums I needed for this recipe. They always have hand-picked fresh and rare fruits and vegetables. Like Buddha’s hand lemon or blood oranges and heirloom carrots. As I selected my black plums, a lady came up to me and asked me if we carried any milk. I can see why she thought I worked there. I’m Korean and the shop was owned by a Chinese family so she probably made a quick assumption that I worked there.
“No. There’s no milk here. But there’s a Shoppers Drug Mart about 10 shops north of here. And if I’m not mistaken…the milk is on the main floor towards the back.”
I didn’t mind being asked…it was a conceivable mistake to think I worked there and I was happy to help.
“Thank you. Your English is amazing!” She replied.
“You’re English is amazing too!” I snapped back.
She gave me the most bewildered look and left. I paid for my plums, walked home and started baking.
I normally would have shrugged this off but in light of what is happening out there, I felt a sting. I don’t think the lady meant any malice or ill-intent in her patronizing comment. What angered me was that I didn’t speak up to help her to understand the weight of her ignorant “compliment.” I have had enough. What I took away from this encounter was that I am just as responsible to dispel stereotypes whenever I’m faced with them, no matter how big or small. I have a voice and have as much right to use it as the next person. I’ve decided from this day forward, to always speak up and not to be that stereotypical sheepish and polite “Canadian”. Rather a strong, vocal and visible human being. To me, that is truly Canadian.
Bon app! (I think all this fury made this cake so delicious)
It’s hard to avoid hearing about what’s going on with our neighbours to the south. I went to my local coffee shop this morning, and almost every single person was talking about it. I was in line at the grocery store and my cashier struck up a conversation with me about it. She told me how Robert de Niro compared the situation to Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, and how he ominously concluded with, “God help us.”
I remember seeing a Staples ‘Back to School’ commercial last fall, to the tune of, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” In this commercial, the dad gleefully drags a rope attached to a sofa with his grumpy kids in anticipation of getting them out of the house and seeing them off to the start of school. Fast forward a couple months, and as the winter holidays are coming to a close here in Ontario, I’m feeling a bit giddy like that dad in that Staples commercial.
I have this recurring nightmare that’s been haunting me for decades. I’m in a bakery surrounded by delectable and mouthwatering mounds of pastries. Croissants, cakes, pies, macarons and muffins piled high in baskets and platters in varying hues of browns and beiges. I can see steam wafting from the butter croissants and fresh icing still runny, dripping off the danishes. It’s one of the most beautiful and delicious sights ever. I’m overwhelmed by the wondrous selection and I can’t decide which to eat first. Chocolate torte first? Then I won’t have space for the tarts. I’m so torn. This indecisiveness goes on and on and feels as if the entire night of dreaming is spent trying to decide which pastry to taste first. Then the dream becomes a nightmare. I awake without having made a choice. My indecisiveness leaves me empty handed. As I’d slowly awake to reality, I’d be filled with regret for not having sunk my teeth into one of those heavenly pastries.
As a mother I am always trying to sneak healthy foods into my kids’ meals. As every parent knows, chicken nuggets and pizza can be great to satiate the kids, but the challenge is trying to include nutrient-rich foods into their fickle little diets. Sometimes these covert operations are met with more success than other times. Recently, I was making chocolate zucchini bread (well, chocolate bread to my 10 year old daughter), when she caught me red-handed standing over the bowl of chocolate batter with the offensive green squash in one hand and a grater in the other. I may as well have been holding a a bottle of rat poison and a dirty syringe based on her reaction.
Just as the trust was being rebuilt, (and she was finally convinced I wasn’t trying to poison her), my culinary antics were blown wide open again. For years I had strained anchovies into her miso soup, but the gig was finally up when she discovered a tiny little anchovy eyeball staring back at her from her bowl. Clearly, I should have used a finer strainer. Her reaction was epic as far as meltdowns go.
Even now, I still mince yellow peppers (so finely that it might as well be a puree) into her spaghetti bolognese. The older she grows, the more her taste buds and sense of smell evolves.Â Most attempts at concealing healthy food now are as she put it a “#fail”. Thus the days of fooling my little princess into believing her food is unadulterated are pretty much done.
Trying to outsmart a 10 year old is challenging. My daughter likes things simple. If it’s apple pie, it better not have blueberries, just apples. Same with chocolate cake. Add a few raspberries on top and suddenly its not a chocolate cake anymore. It’s a raspberry cake.
I recently made cookies with black currants when my daughter finally dropped the big question. “Can’t you bake normal stuff?” I stopped and realized that some of the baked goods I was preparing she wasn’t interested in at all. From a child’s perspective, some of my baking was exclusively for grown ups. Children desire plain and simple. They’re not interested in unique baked goods like Korean Pear Galette or ricotta cheesecakes. So I’ve added another New Year’s resolution. That is, to bake “normal” recipes. This ones for you Moineau. xo