Friday, July 21, 2006

The Tastes of Summer



As I've mentioned before, one of the first times that I realized that I was "different" from my peers was when I showed up to kindergarten with a tupperware box filled with kim bop and all the other kids had these weird things called "sandwiches." Clearly, I'm not the only one who experienced this type of cultural shock. In fact, just the other day, my friend CityMama posted about being teased for coming to school with nori furikake or musubi.

Like CityMama, our family is filled with some serious foodies. Living in NYC, we literally eat a different type of ethnic food every single night. One night will be Italian, the next Ethiopian, the night after that, Greek. The cycle never ends. However, when my wife and I are feeling sick or just need some good old-fashioned comfort food, we always go for Korean food. Nothing else ever really tastes like home.

Growing up, my memories are filled with summer barbecues cooking kalbi on the Weber grill, eating chap jae before running out to a tennis match, or packing up some kim bop for a picnic in Central Park. However, if there's ONE single food that really brings back a flood of summer memories for me, it's naeng myun. When it's hot in NYC and the temperature is hovering in triple digits, there's nothing I want more than a bowl of naeng myun.

However, as common as Korean food is becoming, it's unusual to see non-Asians eating naeng myun. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to see this article in the NY Times yesterday about the origins and history of naeng myun. And, of course, as soon as I read it, I took off for lunch to go and grab a bowl at my favorite naeng myun restaurant.

How about you? What Asian foods remind you of summer?

10 comments:

papa2hapa said...

This summer my Oma insisted on packing me bulgogi sandwiches for my bus ride to Gyeongju.

They were damn good.

Otherwise, for summer, I like cold cucumber kimchi.

Mother said...

Okay. I'm going to butcher the spelling of this - my apologies Korean friends. But when I was taking my grad classes at Michigan State - I used to eat bimbimbap (is that right??) - lots of HOT SAUCE - even in the summer. YUM.

We didn't eat too much Chinese food growing up - only on special occasions.

L said...

Naeng myun is the quintessential summer food. I really want a bowl right now, actually! It's hitting the 90's this weekend here in Seattle.

Susan said...

Onigiri! When I was at summer camp, all the other kids got care packages with homemade chocolate chip cookies and the like. My care package had a tinfoil-and-then-paper-towel-and-then-plastic bag package of onigiri (rice balls with pickled plum inside) made by my grandmother. I was in heaven, eating those, tasting home. Everyone thought I was totally bizarre. But to make up for not sending the cookies, my mother always included a 2 lb bag of M & Ms in the box.

angie said...

naeng myun IS summer. reading this post makes me want to cry! i'm not the only one who associates this 'comfort food' with summer. of course, kim bap is also a summer favorite.

the bit about the weber grill and kalbi almost made me fall out of my chair - OMG, there are others like me! . . .

*when my brother and i drove from TX to DC so i could go to college (i was the first to go to college), my mom packed a huge box of kim bap - it was the only way she knew how to send her love with me.

Puka said...

Yup, naeng myeon and mul kimchi. Mmmmm. So refreshing.

honglien123 said...

Chao bao ngu...Vietnamese Abolone congee, when I was a kid, my uncles would harvest fresh abolone from Monterey bay (illegally). I haven't had it since one of my uncles' friends got caught and was fined $5000. They cut it out after that.

Other summer foods were rice and scrambled eggs with soy sauce. My parents had to work even though we were out of school, and no one knew how to make a decent lunch.

Middleman said...

For me it's cheap Chinese popsicles in wacky flavors like red/green bean or corn.

Mama Nabi said...

Hm, I've had naeng myun twice last week - wasn't even thinking about 'summer food' but I was definitely craving it. I don't know what this is called (I've only had it twice) but it's this cold bean soup thing with bean noodles (or gelatin noodles?) with ice cubes floating in it - every summer, I think about it. Maybe it's called kong guk-su?

nina said...

We had naeng myun yesterday for lunch and cold soba for dinner, but after looking at that picture I'm all hungry for naeng myun again. So yummy!