Bibimbap

Chan Mi Joo - Ecuador


November 18, 2013

This was the response I usually got when a Global Citizen Year Fellow of mine found out about my ethnicity: “You’re Korean?! Oh my gosh, I love bibimbap!”
“Bibimbap?” I would respond.
“Yeah! Bibimbap!”

Bibimbap is a Korean dish well-known for its symphony of flavors. It is made with rice, a variety of Korean side-dishes and vegetables, and an egg sunny-side-up mixed all together with red pepper paste, a dash of sesame-seed oil, and a pinch of sesame seeds.

For me, this dish is simply comfort-food that can take me less than 10 minutes to make at home. In fact, compared to the many other delicious Korean foods that require much more time and effort to make, bibimbap seems pretty ordinary for me. Yet despite how easy it may seem to me, it still holds enough significance to my friends that they feel a connection towards my Korean ethnicity!

Isn’t it interesting to find out that the things that we find simple can hold more significance to others, and vise-versa? Or that despite our varying level of interest towards these things, they are what draw us together and make life interesting?! In fact, had it not been for my bibimbap experiences, I wouldn’t have ever taken the initiative to invite my Global Citizen Year Fellows to have dinner together at a Korean Restaurant during our stay in Quito. In return, I probably wouldn’t have been able to bond with and learn more about them quite like I had that night.

As I go through these next five months, I want to always keep this idea in mind, understanding what “simple” things others as well as I appreciate.
Here are some I’ve already realized, to list a few:
-Appreciating the few hours my whole family spends in the evenings before going to sleep, watching Oye Bonita followed by Yo Me Llamo.
-The “simple” pleasure of being able to eat three meals a day with the whole family; something that doesn’t usually happen with the U.S.’s fast-pace culture.
-Realizing how much I appreciate washing-machines, dryers, mosquito-nets, and warm-showers.
-Appreciating the “simple” fact that I live on a finca(farm) in the Cloud Forest of Ecuador, where I am able to see fireflies at night, hummingbirds in the day, eat delicious Ecuadorian food, drink fresh fruit-juice made 5-minutes prior, and have the company of an amazing family.

And last, but definitely not least…
The bananas! Bananas—red, green, yellow, boiled, fried, raw—have been my best friends  since I’ve gotten in my community. They are so rich and completely organic. I realize now that my family probably thinks that it is interesting how much I enjoy eating the bananas off their farm when they’ve lived with the fruit for their entire lives. To them it’s probably just an ordinary fruit, but to me it’s a fruit that I know I’ll miss a lot when I leave Ecuador! It’s a “simple” fruit, that I appreciate a lot!

Chan Mi Joo