These are some of the food I’ve been cooking.  Seeing these pictures on my Instagram/Facebook, many people falsely assume I love cooking.  In truth, I really don’t like cooking.  But before I explain why, let me tell you a story.

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A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine was out of food.  I, being a kind creature as I am, invited her to dinner at my place.  My friend, being a polite creature as she is, declined my offer.  Now, if I were a normal human being, I would’ve respectfully accepted her decline after offering a couple times.  However, as I found out seriously and absolutely for the first time ever ever in my whole entire life, I am not a normal human being.

I strongly and persistently insisted that she let me feed her.  Eventually, after wasting a lot of time with neither side budging, I told her to stay put (we were studying in the library) while I go back home, cook food, and bring it back to school.  Some of you readers might be thinking, ‘Wow, Simeon is such a kind person!’ and others of you might be thinking, ‘Wow, Simeon is kind of … weird!’  I agree with the latter.

Even in my mind, this whole ordeal felt pretty weird.  It wasn’t merely that I was trying to be a generous person; I deeply and desperately(?) wanted to feed her.  Who does that?!  I mean, I’m used to old Korean ajummas using food as their 6th love language, but this was a bit different.

I initially thought I was probably just a really kind person; but no, this really was some psychopathic compulsive ajumma syndrome or something.  I then thought I probably didn’t want to eat alone; but I already eat most meals with friends, so that couldn’t be it.  Then what could it be?

After some reflection, I realized that it’s because I hate cooking only for myself. What’s the point of cooking a nice meal if I’m the only one who eats it?  I guess it’s better than eating crappy food, but still there’s the feeling in the back of mind that says, cooking is about way more than just eating a tasty meal.  At least when my mom or my grandma cook, they don’t try to make something taste good for the sake of making something taste good; they do it for Dad who works day and night, for Grandpa taking care of the garden, and for the kids who study hard.  Cooking is really about love for the family.

So when I cook for myself, no matter what fancy ingredients I use or how much MSG I put in, there’s really no love in my cooking (I’m not THAT narcissistic!).  Maybe physically or chemically my food is just as good as any other, but probably it will never taste as good as my mom’s cooking because it only satisfies one type of hunger.

Anyways, as my friend and I ate the bulgogi and rice in the cafeteria, it felt very therapeutic.  For the first time in a while, cooking felt worth the effort.  My friend thanked me for the meal, but she really has no idea how thankful I am that she let me feed her.

Simeon Koh

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