I’m writing this from the kitchen, a comfortable, cheery spot.
I’ve just finished reading Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner. If you’re not familiar, it’s a memoir, expanding on a 2018 essay by the author, reflecting on the death of her mother through their shared love for food—particularly the Korean food of her mother’s homeland.
It’s quite good.
There are a few angles from which you can read it. There are the reflections on motherhood, growing up as a child with a Korean mother and an American father, and illness and death—all themes worth exploring.
You can also read it as an ode to cooking and its wondrous abilities. Food doesn’t just feed us. It brings us together, provides a safe social space, transmits shared values in quiet and unexpected ways.
For Zauner, food offers a way to channel her mother’s values and passions, to feel closer even when that’s not possible. For me, food has long been a happy space, a value passed down from my parents—both cultivated an appreciation for meals as a social time, and for cooking as a happy activity. Exchanging texts with my dad for Father’s Day, he noted a few of the foods we could look forward to sharing on an upcoming visit to Waterloo—food as a love language, as it were.
The book reminded me of the soul nourishment that can come from cooking. My favourite lines came near the end, describing Zauner’s first attempt at making kimchi:
The whole process took a little over three hours, but the labor was soothing and simpler than I thought it would be.
After two weeks of fermentation, it was perfect. The ideal complement to every meal, and a daily reminder of my competence and hard work.
Why effort matters, in a nutshell.
While wonderful to be nourished in body and soul, it’s also good to stay intellectually hungry. Here are some things I read in the last few weeks:
- A little over a year ago, Marie Foulston hosted a spreadsheet party.
- For the parliamentary nerds, Philippe Lagassé walks us through the recent kerfuffle over the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, and how its apparent sidestepping reflects Parliament working largely as expected.
- Armine Yalnizyan unpacks the recent Cornwall Consensus, a set of policy proposals for a refined economic order.
- Lara Hogan has a feedback equation, a way to structure your feedback so it’s easy to give and likely to be well received. I encountered this via Erin Casali, who describes giving feedback in asynchronous contexts. Incredibly useful, in the spirit of supportive learning.
Anyhow, I’m off to the stove, to cook up something or other. All the best for the week ahead!