First, a note. Most online kimchi recipes are terrible. Don’t follow them. This recipe is perfect. Follow this recipe. Also, kimchi is not necessarily a fermented food. It’s sometimes most delicious immediately after you make it, when the sharpness of the paste isn’t cut with the sour of the aging cabbage. It’s just a way to eat delicious cabbage for a longer period of time than if you just had a cabbage in your refrigerator getting old and stale, and getting all the variety out of your cabbage as it changes.
Okay, recipe, get a big ass cabbage, baechu, napa cabbage, the size of a toddler or a fat little dog. Cut it in half and wash it. Don’t cut off the end, that’s what holds the thing together. Once it’s clean, put it in a big container with cold salt water that covers up the whole cabbage and let it sit for three hours. Some recipes will tell you to let your cabbage sit for 24 hours or more. Don’t do that. Three hours is enough.
While the cabbage is in the water, mix together red pepper powder and ginger, about two parts to one, and a bunch of minced garlic, 5-10 cloves. Add in anchovy sauce, that says 멸치젓 on it. Anchovy sauce is better than sand lance sauce. Mix in enough to make a bit of a paste. It should stick to your fingers, soggy, not drippy. Add in anything you want, korean green onions, or hot peppers or yellow onions, or daikon radish (cut into thin strips a few centimeters long), or vegetables that seem like they would be good. It will probably turn out alright. Just don’t put in a stupid amount that makes your paste unwieldy and cut it up small. (A note: Not all food has to have sugar in it. Do not put sugar in kimchi.)
Take your cabbage out and rinse it off, but don’t squeeze out all the water. Smush your paste into the cracks, all the way down. Have made enough paste to really fill it up, more paste is good, less paste is less good. When you have it all in the cracks, smear it all over the outside of the cabbage and across the open face from having cut it in half. This last bit is best done in the sealable container you’re going to use to store the kimchi.
Let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator. Then eat a bunch of it. Use a scissors to cut off chunks. Put it back in the refrigerator. The leafy parts taste the best, to me, but maybe you like thick pads of cabbage, if you like that part more, I recommend eating more of that part. After a week, it will be good and sour, a medium range for kimchi. When it starts to go downhill, near the end of its life, it will be really soft and sour. As it sits in the container, it will slowly leak out a bunch of water. When you don’t like eating it very much anymore, when it’s very sour and old, then make kimchi jjigae with it and the watery stuff that’s accumulated. (Note: I’ve never made good kimchi jjigae, good luck doing that. If you don’t want to fuck up the last kimchi, you can fry it up with tofu and/or meat which is a really great way to eat all kimchi after the first few days)
This is not the only way to make kimchi, so don’t come talking to me about how you make yours different, I’m sure you do. This is a good way to do it because it makes good kimchi every time.
List of things you need:
red pepper flakes
maybe green onions
maybe other things
I have described the process of a cafeteria lunch as something akin to mana, not in order to erase the human labor that goes into it (many schools were reminded of that last week when the KCTU education contract workers went on strike) but to emphasize the experience of food being placed outside of my control. Compared to an adjustment to a different method of eating, or a different social code for eating, or a different spatial relationship to eating, or to a different style or kind of food, the shift in food control is more profound change. With no control over your food, desire becomes meaningless; how could you desire, will for, something toward which your will is null? Pleasure too, not meaningless exactly, but altered and diminished. I might try to love a food I am subject to, I might try to soften how badly a food strikes me, I might try to love a food less so I am not dependent on it for happiness. But my pleasure, my ability to enjoy and my ability to receive those things that I enjoy, is largely beyond my power.
Bereft of power, of will and desire, I feel my passions more radically, and more immediately. Each meal is an independent event, mostly unaffected by the other meals (again, not to obscure the material production of the food, which is dependent on maximizing the usefulness of foods, reusing left-overs, the season-ness of fruits, vegetables and dishes, etc., but to point to how making this material production obscure to me grants the experience of disconnected food, most importantly, that toward which I can build no expectation or prediction). Over three years, I have overcome most of my ignorance about the names and compositions of Korea food, but there are hundreds of thousands of discrete dishes and it still happens often that I don’t know what I’m eating, or what variant I am eating. This is coupled with the essentially plural nature of Korean food, eating rice and soup and three or four other things, so the combination of possible dishes is infinite. Here, I am at the furthest remove from the plodding of projective food; every day I am eating a slate of food that I will never again encounter, many days I am eating a dish that I will perhaps never again encounter in this form, and some days I am eating a dish that I will never again encounter, not in this form or otherwise, or even this ingredient. This word, encounter, is exactly the point; I can only, for a single moment, be there with this food, rigorously incapable of thinking to either future or past.
At the same time this experience is immediate, it is affective. Having no use, my food ethics, ideologies and politics are erased. Having no use, my food knowledge, theory and praxis are erased. I have only the shortest durations of desire, the ten or so minutes of eating, and in that time, the smallest range from which to desire; between these five or six foods, of which I am already compelled by politeness to eat some bit of all. Here, I become stunted, where every capacity for considering food is reduced to two; the fact of my pleasure with regard to each of the five or six items, and the meaning of that pleasure.
The first is simply taste, but a powerful simplicity, one whose access I ascribe to the whole apparatus of the cafeteria, and perhaps only to this particular cafeteria, because I have found few other people who relate to this. To experience pleasure or displeasure here is not dispassionate, not exactly. Peaceful, peacefully, calmly. Ah, here is some displeasure, I don’t have to experience too much of it, just enough so I won’t be hungry and will have eat some part of it, ah, here is some pleasure, I enjoy this for what it is, a piece of food existing at a single moment and no longer.
Beyond taste is only a meager little metaphysic, the meaning of taste. This meaning is, first of all, null in that it does have, can have, no reality of meaning, but does have, can have, only the meaning of its material production, that which is obscured to me. But the obscuring of material production isn’t some strange new phenomena, it’s the basic condition for wonder. It’s akin to asking the meaning of a magic trick; there is none, it’s a play of mirrors and music and false-bottom boxes. But if you become obsessed with finding out the material case of magic, you remove yourself from that only pleasurable part of a gross and weird art; the confusion and wonder of a world larger than your perceptions.
Even the most humble epistemology is not enough to stop the brain from doing the brains business, writing up stories to cover those gaps in perception and reasoning. Only now, the brain is simultaneously aware and removed from its necessity by the confines of the cafeteria. Desire-stories make no difference, so wishing or praying is out. Willing-stories make no difference, so requesting or volunteering stories are out. Meaning-stories are out, so experiencing any given story as real, or other than entertaining, is out. Just as the desires are released to their powerlessness, the brain is released from self-care and given the run of its own fantasy. I get to watch as it gets upset, without becoming upset, or pleased, without being pleased, not in any disassociated way but as a being with a jovial disregard for itself.
In order that this not remain so abstract, I give the following examples. Suppose I have a truly awful meal, each thing gross to me. This is rare enough, there are only a few foods I dislike. But when it happens, I get hysterically upset, for a moment or two, and then I calm down instantly, and laugh at how awful the world is, that of the hundreds of thousands of things, somebody hit on the six that I hate and I have to eat them. So extreme are the emotions being experienced and then sloughed off, that it produces a nihilistic re-cyclical. My hysterical upset becomes despair, to preserve myself I reject the chance that this could have been otherwise, that this could have contained pleasure, and retreat to the no-meaning of taste I described above. But I’ve been in this no-meaning space the whole time, observing the hysteria and bargaining and tactical re-location of values and emotions. Once the storm passes, I am giddy at how far my brain, untethered, has gone; insisting that pleasure, all pleasure, has always been a lie, damning the world as such, screeching silently, my eyes over-wide, that existence is a sin. And all because I didn’t want to eat my ddeok. From the privileged no-meaning, it’s been exactly the swirl of dramatic pain that is providing me pleasure, not inversely, but in overdetermination. Every negative addition to the cafeteria space, over-coldness, a canker sore, nicotine rage, only heightens the feeling of null transcendence, while I giggle at a mind losing itself over nothing.
The converse meal, where everything is delicious, is not taken in the same spirit. Instead of having to rely on re-cyclical production, the pleasure here is over-evident and overwhelming. Instead of despair, delight rises to bliss, usually ecstatic. I start thinking about food gods, sometimes I say a prayer to them or to the food or to the women who made the food. (If that last sounds too in-the-world, or too good-hearted, or too political, I agree. It is only an intervention of shame that has me return to the material production that I am otherwise interested in leaving in its obscurity. But there is a wildness to the experience, and when I feel lost to it, I drag myself to the surface by focusing on concrete morality or ethics, like labor conditions. However ethically straight this is, it’s unpleasant to experience and speaks only to how purely non-ethical are my loosed desires.) I exalt the moment, and no-meaning only functions like ataraxia, to keep my exaltation momentary and unexpectant. Once lunch is over, I’m not much more than pleased and soon after, it’s forgotten.
The other meals can be grouped into two; the mass of them and the peculiar of them. The mass are those with some pleasure in them and some displeasure, that work each as complicated machines toward which I am never sure how to feel until I resolve them. The difficulty is that once I’ve resolved them, there being nothing really to resolve, I’ve only whittled away the boring eating time with a trifle. So be it.
The peculiar, however, are the extremities of ambivalence, both exalting pleasure and angry howling betrayal. In the presence of two genuine forces at the same time, I am forced from my no-meaning safe-house by considering what that safe-house really is, and on considering, see how superficial is this no-meaning place. Not no-meaning but proof of meaning, are the simply pleasurable or unpleasurable meals, not no-meaning but verification of meaning’s presence, is the function of that mass puzzling. The first proves the minor metaphysic, that in a world of infinite possibilities there have to be pockets and instances of meaningful existence, even if these pockets are not related to the nature of things, but that these not being related to the nature of things is the nature of things. The second verifies the being of the metaphysic, assuring me always that if the meaning appears null, it’s only because its resolution comes at too high a price and too cheap a value to be worth puzzling out. Each of these says nothing other than their negation, and only pretends at the no-meaning. First here, in ambivalence, do my practices turn to dust and I am left much closer to bewildered hopelessness than before.
4 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
7 And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.
8 And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
9 And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.
10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.
11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.