Thank you for visiting Polyvoracious! I chose the name “Polyvoracious” for this blog because I have many appetites. I love to grow, cook, eat, share and forage for food. I have a weakness for food destinations. I could get lost in food magazines all day: Lucky Peach, Edible Seattle, and Art Culinaire are some of my favorites. I’m especially enamored with travel and food is my motivation for attempting to see the world. I will never learn all there is to know about food and all it implies, but I will continue to study it. I studied Anthropology in college and can’t help but view food through a cultural and social lens. Food is culture; it anchors relationships, deepens interaction, inspires wonder, and changes with the times. I fully embrace my nerdiness about it all.
I was born in South Korea and adopted by first generation Mexican-American parents when I was 8 months old. Korea and Mexico both produce people who love to eat, so I don’t think I could have avoided becoming a food junkie even if I wanted to. My parents adopted me while my Dad was stationed in Okinawa and I grew up between New Mexico and Arizona. Southwestern U.S. culture is very much part of my makeup, and it’s also where I developed a full-blown addiction for red and green New Mexico chile.
—Warning: Brutal Romanization of Korean words ahead—
I had the opportunity to return to Korea for a year on a Fulbright grant in 1999. I landed in Chongup, Chollabukdo (Southern region of the country), teaching English at an all-boys private high school and living with the Principal and his family. I was under the microscope. A lot. I wasn’t a very good Korean language student, but I did learn the alphabet and made it a priority to better understand the food. My homestay mom, Kim Ki Ju, was an excellent cook and happily shared some of her methods with me. I taught her words like “ingredients” and “sauce” and we’d spend hours at the kitchen table with her Korean-English dictionary. I became proficient at reading menus in Hangul and obsessed with kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), all the different panchan (small sides served with every meal), sam-gyup-sal (grilled pork belly seasoned with sesame oil and wrapped in lettuce with fresh garlic and pepper slices), mandu (dumplings), yook-kyeh-jang (spicy beef noodle soup), soontubu (spicy soft tofu soup) and the national college student favorite, dolsot bibimbap (rice, meat, veggies, a raw egg and sesame chile sauce served in a blistering stone pot…you mix it all up before you eat it). Feeling like a stranger in your own birthplace can be an isolating experience, and food ultimately became the thing that connected me to Korean culture.
In 2001, I moved to Seattle. I admit that Seattle was a draw for me because I was into the grunge. My parents and friends from back then will tell you all about my flannel shirt collection, courtesy of my dad’s closet and thrift stores. My taste in music led me to this fair city that has so generously given me my darling husband and a home with enough of a plot to garden our hearts out (for now) and keep chickens. I have access to some of the richest food diversity I’ve ever seen. I never knew I would become so adept at catching and preparing dungeness crab, or cooking up a mess of clams and oysters foraged during a camping trip, or knowing how to use so many different apples, or finding the best Banh Mi (pssst…it’s at Seattle Deli on 12th in the International District). Seattle and Portland (I have so much love for Portland’s food scene) rightfully claim honors for some of the best food sourcing and flawless execution out there, crossing all kinds of genre boundaries while emphasizing organic, local, sustainable, and seasonal offerings. Seattle also does a terrific job of raising awareness about food and social justice issues, and there are several organizations that connect people to food while fulfilling some amazing missions: Seattle Tilth, FareStart, Northwest Harvest, and Food Lifeline are just a few that come to mind.
If you’re still with me, thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoy this blog and I encourage you to explore, cook, eat, share and enjoy life’s bounty! There’s never been a better time to nurture yourself and those you love.
I love receiving comments and questions, so please share those with me!
And now for some random, food-related pics:
My mom and I playing around in the kitchen when I was a munchkin. I’m pretty sure she still has these Tupperware dishes:
We grow tons of heirloom tomatoes every summer:
After a mushroom foraging romp, Fall 2011. Dan discovered shaggy parasols, which are similar in flavor to portabellas and grill up nicely. They grow in a patch not too far from our house. Yes, it was as big as my head and I feared it a little:
Lobstah in Maine, one of many:
Neptune Oyster in Boston:
Rare view of an empty dining car in VIA Rail Canada, during 4-day train ride from Toronto to Vancouver BC. Excellent food, every meal:
Skillet for lunch at our weekend-long wedding at the Guemes Island Resort in 2009. Pure happiness all around: