November 3, 2008

Nehbok is Love


At night I've taken to wearing these men's nehbok my mom got the last time she was in Korea. They are just so comfortable I relax the instant I start putting them on. It's the same feeling I get when I come home and know that I won't be going out again - I usually put on 'home' clothes, something super comfy but incredibly dorky, and probably from the eighties. And before I got my hair chopped off, my hair would find it's way into whatever was at hand - a giant, bedazzled hair clip from mom, possibly a scrunchy, and definitely a bobby pin for the little stray hairs in front. All of which would come off in a second if the doorbell ever rang (as much for my vanity as for the fact that I might scare someone)

I'd read once in Korea that the idea of 'home clothes' was a practical tradition. That because Koreans dressed in their best to go out, they kept a change or two of clothes just to wear at home in order to preserve their more formal clothing. I'd add to that the clothes, almost like uniforms, also helped delineate roles - putting on one's best for interacting socially, and being plain and practical in solitude. This practice was very much a part of my growing up as well. As soon as we got home especially from church, we'd all head straight for our rooms and Mom would often emerge wearing neh-bok, usually with the waist high up over her stomach or her shirt hiked up while she scratched luxuriously at her girdle or bra marks.

At this time I was not so much a fan of nehbok as Mom would force them on me during winter days. I couldn't count the times I'd have to wear a full puffy set of nehbok under my cool jeans and fitted tops, and how I'd have to wait until I got to the bus stop or school bathroom before taking them off and stuffing them into my backpack. It wasn't until I went away to college and began to experience home coming as something to look forward to, a vacation, a place to relax that I started wearing nehbok on my own. I'd often come home to just be, and would pad around in nehbok, looking at pictures, reminiscing about family often joined by cousins who were also home from school. And yes, she'd borrow nehbok, or at least some sweats, and we'd sit around in our cocoon laughing and catching up.

This association has turned into even more as a married adult with children. My husband intones soon after we arrive at my mom's, usually my sister and I for some event, at the moment when she and I both dive into my mom's pajama drawer, " And now the big clothing comes out". My sister and I laugh because it's true, the nehbok and all of the pajamas are usually extra large, or at least the nehbok gives the impression of large since they're so full-body. These become our uniform for the time we are home and until recently my sister would even wear her giant glasses rather than her contacts, making us look at least ten years younger.

As a mom, I've developed an even deeper attachment to nehbok because I suddenly understood why my mother would get so frantic about my wearing them as a kid. I knew vaguely Korean moms had this fear of cold and attributed to it all sorts of evil but I never got past the literal nehbok to see what she was really saying and doing. The nehbok were her way to warding off the cold and the evil, of bundling me as thickly as she could before sending me out into the cold. It was her way of layering me, as much of home as possible, thickly against my skin, my only protection against the world when she could not be there.

November 3, 2008

To kick start my newest blog category 'Jewreans'...

(Taken directly from the kimchee loving Justin's blog)

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

November 4, 2008


November 11, 2008


I want to talk like this woman...

Maangchi is a one woman website/blog/podcast/video all about Korean cooking. I've already watched three youtube's since I got the link a few minutes ago. Thanks Sonia!

November 12, 2008

Juliane Eirich

Today's 20x200 edition features artist Juliane Eirich photography from her 1.5 years in Korea on an art grant (okay she was there to be with her Korean boyfriend also). This photo is from her series Korea Diary which is soon to be published as a book and I just think it's a perfect piece of happy in a grimly grey day...


November 29, 2008

Turkey and Kimchee


Nothing like turkey and all the fixings plus banchan! I so strongly associate eating turkey with kimchee and rice that even if we have Thanksgiving elsewhere I have to save some turkey to eat with kimchee at home. It doesn't feel complete somehow.

Incidentally, my sister who spent the holiday at her just-about-fiance's in Maryland informed me that most of her 'Korean' Korean friends didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving. And if they did they didn't do turkey. Which made me curious as to what was on your table growing up? Did you do turkey or Thanksgiving at all?

Looking back I realized that the only reason we celebrated it was because of us kids and we had enough cousin power to insist on having turkey which we probably were roasting ourselves at eleven years old or something. Even now we tend to make all the American dishes while mom slaves over the Korean dishes which always took longer. The interesting thing is that now Thanksgiving has come to mean a doubly huge feast.

Mom was on a roll cooking wise and spent the next day making vats of kimchee. This is my younger son Gabriel watching and what you can't see is he's holding a banchan plate with his third helping of betchoo (cabbage) that's been prepped and just before being mixed with Mom's homemade chili paste.


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

November 29, 2008

Two blue cars

Oh my and before I forget my poor slave of a husband has finally finished the website! Our little shirts are online now and we are no longer at Brooklyn Flea so check out our new 'ga-geh' out and let us know what you think!


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