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Stephanie Drenka


Ji-Yeong’s Udon

Ji-Yeong’s Udon

While driving from Seoul to Andong, we had breakfast at a rest stop/cafeteria. I was fascinated with the abundance of meal choices– it was so difficult to narrow down what I wanted to eat.

Eventually, I settled on doenjangjigae. I’ve been trying for years to imitate the doenjangjigaes at restaurants, to no avail. Perhaps I thought that by eating the stew in Korea, the recipe would magically be engrained in my memory.

I was on a mission to savor the taste and recreate it at home. But when Kyung-mi unni brought the soup to me, I was already preoccupied watching my niece, Ji-Yeong eat her udon noodles. She seemed so self-sufficient… blowing on the broth to cool it down before tasting.

I stared, searching for similar mannerisms or some reflection in her motions and characteristics. It was in seeing her chubby cheeks as they filled with noodles that I recognized myself in her for a split second. A realization I once thought would only be experienced after having my own child.

To think a simple bowl of noodles could touch my heart in this way— japanese soup for the soul.

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