Monday, March 5, 2012
Living a Korexican Lifestyle(and yes, I just made this word up)
People always ask me, "How is it like- being Mexican and having a Korean husband?". There are those who look down upon this but for the most part, people are just plain curious (and that's understandable!). After all, our mix isn't as common as, say, Black and White or White and Hispanic.
Well, I always tell people asking me such question that despite being two totally different races with different cultures, to me it's as if we are the same race. Of course that sounds impossible and "mooshy" to say the least. The thing is, my husband, Alex, is Americanized. He was born and raised in the States. I was brought to the U.S when I was 2 so I, also, grew up here. We are both fluent in English and our native tongue. I can read and write both languages and my husband can read and write some Korean. I have (and continue to learn as I go) learned some Korean and my husband knows enough Spanish to have a photograph/business related conversation, lol. I would say we are both as Korean/ Mexican as we are American.
Mexican and Korean cultures and foods have many similarities, actually. More than you'd think. I love the Korean culture and their cuisine! If I hadn't been born Mexican, I'd have definitely been born Korean- I can tell you that much! I love how respect is everything in Korean culture! I love how you speak to an elder and people you aren't acquainted with differently than you would a sibling or friend! That is true for Mexican culture too! We say "usted" to show respect and the verb changes as well when speaking to elders/ strangers. In Korean culture (and again, this is from what I've learned in four years) you use "yuh" most of the time but that doesn't always work that way. Sometimes the whole sentence changes. That is what makes it hard; but for the most part, you can just add "yuh" to the end and presto (that is what I love)! Anywho, so respect is a huge thing in Korean culture and that is one of the things I love about it because respect is extremely important in life. I'd say that though respect is a big thing in my culture too, Koreans place a larger emphasis on it.
When it comes to Korean and Mexican cuisines, many similarities can be found as well. When I was pregnant, my mother owned a small restaurant about 15 minutes away. My husband and I used to work the same shifts and I sent him to my mother's restaurant to get me some enchiladas from the restaurant. My mother, being the great mother-in-law that she is, packed some beef ribs for Alex. He immediately told me that Koreans had a similar dish. I tried this dish a few months later and my, oh my! I don't know how I survived without eating this before! Ghalbi is my favorite Korean dish and one of my favorite dishes period! Actually, we ate some about three days ago and I have some marinating again for tonight's dinner. Yes, that is how much I love it! I know how to make it and make it pretty darn good (the hubby will testify in my favor!). Another similarity is that we both eat very spicy. Red soups. Chili peppers on mostly everything! Yes, that is my type of food! Our "caldo or sopa de mariscos" is almost the same as "jjammbong"- minus the noodles. Our "picadillo Michoacano" is similar to "yuk gae jang" (which was my favorite Korean soup...Later replaced by "daegu tang" ). One last thing I find very similar is the Kimchi (or atleast the stuffed cucumbers or "oi sobaegi"). No, we Mexicans don't eat Kimchi but we do eat cucumbers with lime, salt and ground red peppers. The Kimchi has an acidic taste to it once it has been fermented and it is made with "gochugaru" (<--- I love this stuff!). So they taste similar but, of course, Kimchi's taste is much more strong due to the garlic (mmm!).
The funny thing about the way we eat at my house is that we mix our foods. For example, a Mexican dish with Korean rice and Kimchi. Other times, we eat a Korean meal with an "agua de piña" or an "agua de melon" (homemade fruit juices made with whole fruit, water, and sugar). My favorite mix is steamed, white Korean rice (or "bap") with "tinga". Tinga is a Mexican poultry dish made with potatoes, chorizo, onions, garlic, and chipotle peppers- delish!. So when it comes to food, I have no issues eating Korean and my husband has no issues (or choice) eating Mexican. We mix it up at the Kim's!
When it comes to keeping traditions alive, I think both my husband and I find it difficult to do. This is so because being here so many years, our parents didn't always keep traditions alive. We do like the traditions, we are just not as familiar with them as we should be. For example, Koreans celebrate the 100 days after birth. With us, we wanted to do it for our son but for personal reasons ended up not doing it. I wanted to dress him in a "hanbuk" (traditional Korean outfit used in formal occasions) and have lots of yummy food and fruits! Unfortunately, we weren't able to do it. For Mexicans, we celebrate the 3rd year. We won't be doing this niether. I don't understand why it is done and we aren't big on birthdays. Growing up, we didn't celebrate Mexican holidays like "Dia de los Reyes Magos" or even "Dia de los Muertos". None of that is familiar to me. My husband has pictures of him and his brothers in hanbuks so his parents did try to keep traditions alive. It is just hard when you, yourself, aren't familiar with such practices. It becomes almost foreign to you.
With our son, Justin, we try to expose him to all three languages and both our cultures. It is of extreme importance to us that his roots are never forgotten.
At night, when we are resting and unwinding, I don't stop to think how different we look and are. To me, we're just one item. One marriage, one family. All other interesting things we encounter are just a bonus!