Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A seven sister army

So I caught the sleeper bus Friday night. As every Korean is obligated to go home this weekend...the traffic reminded me of those modern engineering marvels that span Lake Washington...

Oddly enough, the traffic doubled as a mixed blessing. Yes, the
traffic was stop and go, the seats were uncomfortable, and sleep was little and far between. But my friend, her sister, and I arrived in Busan at 7:00 in the morning. Early enough that the day was still young, yet late enough that the subways were up and running and the army was wide awake.

You see, there is more to to the family than just the 2 sisters that I know. There are 7 sisters...they call themselves an army...and the mother the general.

The Korean/Confucian ideal reveres men. In order to honor the ancestors at the traditional holidays (Lunar New Years and Harvest) you need a male descendant...if you have a daughter...you keep on trying.

The women traditionally spend the entire day preparing many dishes to offer their ancestors ... and lucky me I just happened to visit on a cooking/feasting holiday. I thought I was fortunate to visit on such a holiday...until I sat down to dinner.

You see the matriarch-general grew up poor and hungry. A traditional Korean greeting might inquire if you ate yesterday...because literally the entire country was starving and it was a legitimate question for her when she was a child. Where in America this might translate into a tradition of cleaning your plate...in Korea in involves providing more food than your can possibly eat. In Korea, it is considered polite to leave some food on your plate (no matter how delicious it is) in order to show that you were provided too much food and couldn't possibly eat another bite.

I tried that with the matriarch...but it didn't work. You see she prepared enough food for 10 people...5 of her daughters ate peckishly...and I was expected to take up the slack. When I was full...she insisted I eat more...when I was ready to burst, she insisted I eat more...

I began dreading eating meal with her. Not because the food wasn't delicious...it was
amazing...but because because I felt like a cow being feed in preparation for slaughter...

That and the sixth sister's constant (seen above in pink) mention of making Philip Bone Soup...

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