This morning I had rice cakes, 안절미 (pronounced Ahn-juhl-me).
Today is the last day Halmoni is in Columbus, weather permitted. It is a slightly crazy day preparing for that, and also trying to do my homework and other obligations. we covered the serving dish with seran wrap to save time on doing dishes.
The weight of the dishes themselves never seem heavier than when I am eating with my Halmoni who is under five feet and on some days, weighs less than me. I’m grateful she gained four pounds since she came to visit Columbus. I hope she gains some strength and allows herself to rest as she does her ministry…
No matter how much time passes, or how crazy the day is, my Halmoni never fails to make rice cakes for me early on the morning. As she prepares them, she tells me the story of how she came to know I love rice cakes. When I was a little child, her sister died. Her sister and mother helped raise my father and two aunts. As we drove to her funeral from Boston to New Jersey, I repeatedly asked for rice cakes. This took my Halmoni by surprise. Most children, particularly those born in the States, do not have an inclination towards rice cakes. That had been her observation: little Korean American children born in the states often do not have the tongue to appreciate Korean cuisine. She did notice that they can grow into loving it as they grow.
Rice cakes must be fresh to eat or they are no good. Halmoni could never send them via mail for that reason. Instead she sent other things, Korean underwear, Korean socks, Korean pajamas. And lots of Korean seaweed. We loved seaweed! Halmoni observed what we like, and never forgets. She is good at noticing what people like. She has a knack for making people feel special, even over a thousand people. She keeps in touch with all the life members of WCNF, and the one file she brought with her for this trip contains over five hundred names.
So, whenever we see each other, we have rice cakes during one of the meals. It is usually the first meal. When I do life with her, we usually get up at dawn to go to a rice cake shop. Then we buy fresh rice cakes for the day and enjoy them each meal.
I hope she lives forever.