25 (Tue) October 2011
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ
Yes, folks, that’s right: by W, again (see previously 2.292 Beef & Bell Pepper Stir-Fry).
During my frequent absences from home over the past couple weeks, I noted with growing dismay that W had been taking the kid and our unborn child to eat out at restaurants or, even worse, resorting to take-out, delivery, and instant foods. I also found myself eating more crap than usual. At dinner last Saturday, I explained my concerns to the in-laws not in censure but rather in preface of a request for assistance in getting their daughter to begin cooking at home. I earnestly thought that the MIL (mother-in-law) would jump at the invitation to take an active involvement in our daily affairs, something that I’ve endeavored to minimize through the years. Silly me.
What I failed to remember in a moment of despair is that MIL, who spoiled the girl for over 30 years to the point of rendering the woman utterly incompetent with respect to fundamental household tasks, now prefers to defend the disability that she created instead of doing anything to rehabilitate the condition. Before I could get to the request part, she cut me off and launched into a passionate tirade about how much of a strain cooking can be for a pregnant woman. If not one thing, then it’s another: prior to pregnancy, it was how much of a strain cooking can be for a career woman. While fully and gratefully acknowledging the burdens of pregnancy and career that W has borne for our family, I refuse to concede that either constitutes a basis for outright exemption from the kitchen.
FIL, on the other hand, who is always optimistically diplomatic, loathes conflict but loves playing conciliator if ever a dispute should regrettably arise. He weighed in with a spiel about the motivational wonders of positive reinforcement, citing his own marriage as an example of domestic bliss sustained on a constant flow of praise. Though offered on its face as a proactive solution, I considered his long-standing disapproval of the son-in-law’s proclivity to criticize and interpreted the proposal as yet another affirmative defense of the daughter. Ever so briefly, I contemplated a quip about the lack of criticism from him being to blame for the mediocrity of the food in that home. But no, I simply said: “Well, sir, if your daughter were ever to honor me by cooking something – as I have done for her, day in and day out during the past 5 years, with or without her commendation – then I would be thrilled to applaud her for the effort, but unfortunately she has yet to do so, and I refuse to express joy over an empty plate merely for the sake of encouraging her to engage in an activity that she should be doing of her own accord as a wife, a mother, and a functioning grownup human being.”
That said, I turned to address MIL, only to be thwarted by W’s sudden intervention. To make a long story short, she pled guilty to the charges, parental defenses notwithstanding, and pledged to start cooking, spousal approbation regardless.
Thusly, for the second straight day, she has cooked dinner, both times to success. This odeng tang – with a remarkably rich and almost creamy broth made from her own anchovy stock in the Koreanized style – was better than any fish cake soup that I’ve ever made, and I was thrilled to applaud her for it. The accolade was real, not merely a trick to keep her ass over the stove. Now that FIL’s chicken-egg cycle of positive reinforcement has been set into motion, legitimately, I look forward to seeing and eating what comes of it.
(See also FOODS)
(See also PLACES)