Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food Matters: Learning To Eat From A Toddler, Getting A Gift From This Blog And Jeff's Family

Every time that I feel the blog fizzling out under the weight of so much else to do, I remember that food matters -- even the humblest dishes.

Lil' Chow came from his foster family loving seaweed soup.  We knew that, but I couldn't make the soup.  I could buy seaweed.  I could put it in soup.  But Lil' Chow ate little and never seemed to be in love.

I learned from Jeff Givens' mother-in-law that I just had to make it right.

Jeff runs Southern Skies Coffee just over the county line in Finksburg.  We met through HowChow and have emailed for years. He flagged the French Twist Cafe in Sykesville.  But we probably had met only once or twice when Jeff volunteered late last year that his kids loved miyok guk -- seaweed soup -- and eat bowl after bowl cooked by his mother-in-law.  Then he hand-delivered frozen soup to our front door.  Twice.

Lil' Chow went nuts for Jeff's mother-in-law's soup.  This was real Korean soup.  Meat and seaweed in broth.  Lil' Chow had eaten mostly formula at his foster family's home, but he had an expert's hand to spoon rice into his soup and then scoop, scoop from the bowl into his mouth -- and onto his bib, shirt, pants, the floor and high chair.  It's the only vegetable that he seems to really want to eat.

That kept my hope alive until last month when Lil' Chow and I passed a woman sampling seaweed soup in the new H Mart in Ellicott City.  He drank three samples, then cried when I pushed the cart away.  I couldn't explain that I'd grabbed two bags of dried seaweed to cook the soup.

My payoff came the next night when I put down my seaweed soup.  Lil' Chow picked up his spoon and said "guk."  That's Korean for soup, and it's a word that he hadn't heard since October.  But it was there on his tongue.  Just waiting for someone to serve miyok guk and bring it out.

He still likes her soup more. 

I defrosted our final quart Monday because Lil' Chow was home with a fever.  I hyped him up by saying that we would "eat guk" for lunch.  "Eat," Lil' Chow said.  "Guk."  He ate rice and miyok guk.  So did I.  It's my first food introduced by Lil' Chow.  I'd eaten exceptional Korean soups at joints like Lighthouse Tofu in Ellicott City and Hang Ari in Catonsville, but not this homestyle soup thick with the reconstituted seaweed and the tastes of sesame oil and thin-sliced meat.  We ate quietly at lunch.  It was the only time of our nap-less day that Lil' Chow was quiet.  He used two spoons to accelerate his pace.

And I was grateful for this blog, which connected me to Jeff and his mother-in-law and to miyok guk.  A little food that matters.

So far, the other food that matters: Frozen waffles.  I'm a short-order cook in the morning.  I make pancakes.  I offer cereals, fruits, eggs.  But Lil' Chow's eyes open widest for frozen waffles with syrup.


Amber F. said...

So sweet! I love this post.

emkenton said...

Thanks for continuing to make our lives better with your musings on food and beyond! So glad you and Li'l Chow are learning from each other-- what a joy!

Katie said...

Maybe one of the reasons why I love food as much as I do is that it brings different people together on so many different levels!

Anonymous said...

So sweet. Family, friendship, soup. Thank you for reminding us all about the little things like soup--and the big things like taking care of one another--that matter.

Kat said...

Aw, that's really heartwarming. I'm so glad that you (and Jeff's mother-in-law) can make the little guy soup that tastes like home.

So... going to post the recipe? ;)

Jess said...

Aww, so sweet. Love it! :)

Yaofu said...

Very sweet story. I am very interested to learn the seaweed soup Lil" chow craves.

EastCoastMatt said...

BTW, if you need lessons on a real home-made meeyukgook, I mentioned this post to my wife, and she's up for giving a mini cooking lesson.

Nina Chong said...


I've tried several of her recipes to make traditional Korean food. :)