My Kimchi Affair


Today for lunch I ordered a kimchi salad without ever having actually tried kimchi before. It was paired with kale so I figured it had to be both cool and “delicious.” Delicious is in quotes because no one actually thinks kale is delicious—it literally tastes like nothing, though the texture makes for great mouth-feel. That’s a term I picked up in eating disorder treatment, where they try to get us to appreciate our food in a way that only monks and reclusive yogis have time for.

But back to the salad. I am a creature of habit and rarely order things I haven’t already tried (which is probably why I’m still single). As such, I was feeling quite proud of my endeavor into unknown, Korean territory. You might think I’m exaggerating for the sake of humor, but sadly I’m not. If you’re thinking now that I don’t live on the edge, you’re correct. There are no edges even remotely close to me. I prefer soft rolling hills where there is no margin for error, or death.

I was so excited by my bold choice that I began googling Kimchi (which is how I know it’s Korean, because I definitely did not know that before) to find out about its nutritional benefits (another reason I’m single). I’ve always had a penchant for drama, so when given the opportunity to turn “grabbing a quick bite” into “doing something wonderful for your body and thus being better at life than 99% of Americans,” I’m obviously going to take it. Apparently South Koreans are equally into food-related dramatics, as they credit their nation’s rapid economic growth in the 80s to the simple fact that they eat a lot of kimchi. Definite bullshit, but bullshit I could get behind.

The salad arrived immediately, which is always both exciting and disturbing. It was done up in a way that looked quite tasty, with fat chunks of avocado resting above the carrot/kale/kimchi concoction that was drenched in a messy lime vinaigrette. I was now even more pleased with my decision, because Instagram-worthy meals are important to me.

The first bite was great, although in retrospect I think I just wanted it to be great so badly that it became great by way of my own mindfuckery. Kimchi is spicier than I’d imagined, and rather tart. I determined that the sensation in my mouth was probably similar to trying out salsa dancing for a spell. The more I consumed, however, the more it dawned on me that I actually really disliked what I was eating. I became vaguely nauseous, and the remaining bites seemed to mock my risk-taking ways.

I couldn’t bear to be the girl who ordered salad and didn’t touch it (because I’ve been that girl and, well, she blows). Also—and please do not reveal this—I really care what other people think of me, even, apparently, the random wait staff at a restaurant. So much could spin out of control from the simple act of my not finishing the salad: feelings could be hurt; the Kimchi could be discontinued, forcing Bushwick hipsters to venture elsewhere for their fix; I’d feel guilty for being wasteful (which never happens, but it’s fun to pretend that one day I might be not awful).

I also paid ten damn dollars for it. So, I soldiered on, angrily holding back all my spice-induced snot with the fervor of a woman who has no clue whatsoever about real struggle.

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