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Thursday,November 26,2020
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What Is Cooking?

Campus couples can carefully cook caramel crepes! Think about it: On Sunday morning, you invite your Dongguk Dear over to your parents’ house for breakfast. Strangely, your mother doesn’t seem excited about the idea. Like many mothers around the world, she sadly contemplates her desperate situation.

I. Have. To. Cook. Again. But. Now. For. A. Guest.

Well, not to worry because you can ride shotgun in the kitchen?you can even be Momma’s copilot! Why not take charge and liberate Mom from her breakfast duties once a week? No? How about once a month? Sadly, I’m not talking from experience here, because I was a quintessential Missourian Momma’s Boy who enjoyed chowing down on Momma’s cooking probably more than any other student in the ‘Show-Me’ state. However, what I realized after one fateful day, was that there was no greater gift to Ma from a Momma’s Boy (Daddy’s Girls?you too!) than learning how to cook a few dishes exceedingly well.

One fine summer morning, the smell of cut grass wafted into my room as I slept soundly. Dad was mowing the lawn. Invading my dream was the mower, roaring along, glistening in the checkered sunlight that came in through the ancient oak trees surrounding our house. I peeped one eye open?ever so slowly?and found that, yes, I was hungry: my stomach growled in displeasure. As any Dongguk business student can tell you, this was a supply chain management disaster waiting to happen? I was starving and nothing was cooking. My nose strained for reassurance?a faint whiff of bacon or perhaps a trailing hint of fried-egg and bread toasting?but there was no indication of imminent breakfast. So naturally, I went to wake her up.

Mom’s bed was surrounded by a sea of crumpled up tissues. Her nightstand was a pharmacy. She was at death’s door. Somewhere, under those sheets, Mom was knocked-out cold. It was extremely rude of her to inconvenience me with her mock sickness?she would be better soon, of course?so, naturally, I tried to wake her up. She did not stir. So, I walked the trail of a thousand tears to the kitchen and tried to recall from memory how it was that Mom prepared an omelet. It was quite simple: crack an egg open, beat the yolk, add a little bit of salt to it. Leave it be. Dice up some onions and ham. Leave them be. Finally, grate some cheese. Not that cheap processed stuff?no, I went for the fine Wisconsin cheddar and grated about a half-cup of golden deliciousness. Feeling a little bit like a mad scientist at this point, I cranked up the fire and took the leap. The ingredients were soon a sizzling and mouth-watering symphony and I watched in astonishment. Cooking was becoming a ‘can-do’ item right before my eyes!

At this point, Mom crept in and saw my masterpiece?her face, in the realization (and naivety) that I was performing a filial duty for her (not!), changed from misery to joy? The runny nose ceased to run. The congestion ceased to congest. She was a changed woman. The 24 karat omelet gleamed in my mother’s eyes and she looked with disbelief as it oozed a savory ore. Momma fixed her eyes on me in a way that I will never forget: I had shocked her with my (I mean, her) omelet. Dad came in at that point, chucked me on the arm, and said: “way to go?where’s mine?” 

What started as an accident, quickly changed into a life changing event. All of the more sophisticated foods that I cook for my family now (like caramel crepes?if I’m feeling frisky) have their origins in that first motivating episode from high school. Getting started with the first dish is the real difficulty and I would recommend that you learn how to cook a food that you really love?that way you will have a lot of motivation to see your skill grow. You can do it! So, be your dish chiggae, sundae, pasta or pate, you are off to great cooking, so get on your way.

Josh S. McNicoll  jack222@dongguk.edu

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