A Taste of Home: Moong Ki Dhal
By Laremy Lee
Despite speaking disparate tongues, food bridges different generations and brings this family together.
“Where did she put it?” my grandmother asked in Sindhi, as she rummaged through the freezer.
“Put what?” I asked my grandmother in English, watching her with curious eyes.
“Methi, methi,” she replied.
“Methi?” I asked, perplexed. “What’s methi?”
While I’ve heard of this spice, I couldn’t cross-reference its name in Sindhi with its English name, and hence, picture how it looked like.
“Biji, biji,” she said, using the Malay term for seeds as she continued rummaging through the freezer.
Methi? Seeds? I thought to myself, puzzled, wondering how I could avert this potential crisis in the kitchen.
Alas, too late. My grandmother sighed dramatically before announcing to no one in particular, her voice slightly muffled by the still-open freezer door: “I don’t know where Shanta put.”
Turning to Google for explanation, I soon found my answer…
So Prem Vadiveloo and I took a little bromantic trip around Korea together last weekend.
Well, not around Korea per se; we only managed Seoul and Gyeongju.
Anyway, these are the highlights of our tour:
- In Seoul: Calling hotel reception to ask for a kettle, only to be told emphatically, “Kettle is NO!”
- In Gyeongju: Asking where to buy shampoo, only to be directed to… a dildo shop. Did they sell shampoo? No.
- In Gyeongju: Walking down the road from the dildo shop, chancing upon a place that potentially offers sex services and popping our heads in to take a look, only to be immediately told, “No!” (complete with Ultraman sign).
- In Gyeongju: Ordering bibimbap and specifically saying “채식주의자 (chaesigjuuija; vegetarian)” and “No 고기 (gogi; meat)”, only to be given bibimbap with surprise beef – raw and grilled – hiding under the egg. Repeating “chaesigjuuija” while pointing at myself and having the server remove the raw beef and dump it in Prem’s bowl. Attempting to also transfer grilled beef to Prem’s bowl, only for server to insist that I eat the grilled beef… ergo, vegetarian is No?
To clarify, the shampoo was for Prem – not me.
But all in all, a good learning experience in terms of imbibing Korean culture, Korean history, Korean beef and Korean rejection.
You know you’ve crossed a certain temporal threshold in your existence when you and your guy friends excitedly:
- Download – at a solemnisation lunch – a heart rate monitor app to check how healthy you all are;
- Discuss – over Whatsapp – how the Philips AirFryer has gone down in price
-“…from $300plus to $249!”
-“Will it go down further?”
AND THEN contemplate buying the damn air fryer.
And that’s not even mentioning the Chinese Chess while we were having drinks!