Gourmet: Episode 19
Really cute episode.
Kim Rae-won is particularly fun to watch as he blunders through courtship, which is both cute and amusing, because he reminds me of so many hapless guys trying to figure out women and faltering badly, even though the answer seems so obvious from an outside perspective. (Women aren’t really so complicated, guys! It’s just that you often approach us either by thinking that (1) we think just like you and therefore react to things like a guy does, or (2) we are aliens whom it is pointless trying to understand, so why bother trying? A little effort goes a long way, right ladies?)
SONG OF THE DAY
VEIL – “연극은 끝났다” (The play is over) [ Download ]
EPISODE 19 RECAP
Sung-chan thinks over his argument with Jin-soo, recalling Joo-hee’s comment that he misunderstood the situation. With his anger subsided and doubt creeping in, he visits her magazine offices with a peace offering. Her friend tells him she’s quit, to his surprise. Being the good pal she is, Jin-soo’s co-worker answers Sung-chan’s question of why she left with a pointed remark suggesting it was because of him that Jin-soo left her writing job to serve tables.
Now he feels really bad, particularly when he sees that she’s working at the sullungtang restaurant where he’d stood her up for their date. He loiters outside, selling out of his truck to passers-by, and then working up the nerve to go inside and face her.
Perhaps if he were more assertive or straightforward things may have gone better, but Sung-chan beats around the bush, sitting down to eat and trying to engage her attention in a rather passive way. He wants to apologize, but he’s waiting for an opening instead of creating one, and Jin-soo is still hurt and annoyed, so she ignores him. Worst of all, just as he broaches the topic with Jin-soo, ready to smooth things over, he gets a call from Joo-hee.
Therefore Jin-soo ignores Sung-chan’s (rather pathetic) attempts to engage her attention, leaving him behind and at a loss. The restaurant owner (and friend of Sung-chan) sizes up the situation and tells him how she’d cried on their aborted date.
Sung-chan doesn’t get another chance to attempt apology because his father drops by and takes him for a trout fishing trip. Sung-chan promises his restaurant owner friend some fresh fish, and the owner plays Cupid, recognizing that Sung-chan needs help. He sends Jin-soo on an errand to the village where Sung-chan is fishing to pick up some fish.
When she arrives, both are surprised to see each other, and Jin-soo is invited to fish with them. At this point, Sung-chan is still unable to address the elephant in the room and apologize directly, so Jin-soo remains stiff and circumspect, although the fishing helps alleviate some of the tension. (Even Chef Oh urges Sung-chan not to mess things up with her this time. Haha.)
Chef Oh insists that Sung-chan taste the trout soup cooked by one of his old friends (and possible old flames), who lives in the area. Upon tasting her soup, Sung-chan is struck with the unusual, fresh taste that shows a different (hitherto unknown) way of cooking trout. He becomes determined to learn her recipe, but she refuses to teach him. In fact, she’d refused to teach Chef Oh years ago, too.
Sung-chan vows he’ll figure it out on his own, despite everyone else’s skepticism. When Jin-soo expresses doubts, he jumps on her comment and proposes a bet: if he wins, she has to return to her magazine job. (He recognizes that she quit over honor issues stemming from his angry reaction to that article, and feels guilty for being the reason she gave up her dream job).
Thus Sung-chan whips up attempt after attempt, failing each time to discover the secret of the trout soup. Each time he tweaks the dish, he comes one step closer, but the final product is still not quite right. He tries so many times that everyone tells Sung-chan it’s time to quit and give up. He refuses.
In fact, he’s so stubborn that the woman tells Jin-soo that she’d better agree to take her old job back just to get Sung-chan to give up. Jin-soo watches Sung-chan cook all night and into the morning, and hears Sung-chan grumble to himself after another failed effort. (He doesn’t see her standing in the doorway as he mutters that he gives up.) “If I tried this hard and couldn’t get it, I have no choice but to quit.” But then he reconsiders, mumbling, “No, I’ll continue. I have to send Jin-soo back to her magazine job. I’ll get her writing her column again.”
Jin-soo’s attitude has softened by now, and a semblance of their former camaraderie returns. Probably because Sung-chan is so busy focusing on something else that he doesn’t have a chance to muck things up with Jin-soo.
Finally, after numerous adjustments (he uses mountain garlic instead of regular, chile pepper innards instead of whole chiles, mountain well water instead of regular), he succeeds.
Restaurant lady jokes with Chef Oh that he’s just like Chef Oh was at that age — endlessly curious, determined, stubborn. She wonders if he brought Sung-chan all this way to settle the score, since he lost their cooking challenge thirty years ago. Chef Oh jumps on that comment and suggests a rematch, pitting her versus Sung-chan.
The woman grudgingly agrees under the condition that they make a serious wager with serious stakes. She slaps down an envelope containing her “entire assets,” and tells Sung-chan to put up his truck. The challenge Chef Oh proposes is to create an entirely new dish with the fish.
Sung-chan fries his rainbow trout in small slivers to re-create the look of scales, garnished with bellflower and arranged with white pebbles. Hers is hwaedupbap, which is essentially a seafood version of bibimbap — it mixes sashimi with vegetables, rice, and vinegared gochujang (red-pepper paste).
His dish is delicious, and he wins easily because there’s something wrong with her sauce. Sung-chan grabs the envelope of his winnings — which ends up being passes to an amusement park.
Hehehehe. Looks like Sung-chan is so bad at wooing that everyone feels the need to help him along.
Not the sharpest when it comes to understanding the female mind, Sung-chan wonders if the lady lost on purpose for her own romantic reasons — to get rid of the youngsters so the old couple could have some time alone. Chef Oh, meanwhile, guesses differently, and asks why she purposely left the vinegar out of her sauce. She answers that if left to themselves, the young couple would never get it on. They need some time to get out and have some fun.
Sung-chan turns out to be afraid of heights and can’t enjoy their cable-car ride, which is something Jin-soo finds endlessly amusing.
Once at the top, however, he’s fine, and now’s as good a time as any to (finally!) get to the point. He tells Jin-soo, “I’m awkward and not good at expressing myself, so even though I feel sorry inside…”
And that’s really all it takes. Now that he’s opened the door, Jin-soo lets him off the hook, answering, “It was understandable that you could have misunderstood in that situation. The thing about misunderstandings is, regardless of how long it takes, all you need to do is resolve the misunderstanding and accept the apology when it comes.”
But her smile fades as she adds, “But… I don’t really know what kind of person you are, or much about you.”
Guessing at her meaning, Sung-chan starts to explain about Joo-hee, but she cuts in, saying, “I don’t want to know.” With that remark, that door starts to swing shut and Jin-soo turns to walk away. Sung-chan feels the moment slipping away, so he grabs her hand as they head back down the mountain.
Meanwhile. (1) Oonamjeong discovers a problem. One of the chefs tastes the sauces in Oonamjeong’s outdoor urns, and something is wrong with all of them — the soy sauce, the pepper paste, the pickled shrimp, the kimchi. As the most senior chef present, it’s up to Min-woo to do something, but he has no idea what’s the matter. The problem is bound to grow in scope because Oonamjeong not only serves these dishes in-house, but supplies them to other retailers too.
(2) Bong-joo and Joo-hee are away on a business trip. Bong-joo wonders where his father has gone, and learns with disappointment that his father skipped out on this trip in order to see Sung-chan instead. Things get worse when he brings up their engagement party to Joo-hee, and her smile falters. She starts to say something in a hesitant tone, but is interrupted by a phone call, dropping a piece of paper in the process. Bong-joo picks up the ferry ticket she’d saved from her Wando trip, and realizes he’s been pushed aside for Sung-chan once again.
Trying to placate him, Joo-hee points out that she’s with Bong-joo now. To which he responds, “Just in body. You were always like that. You were never totally with me for even a moment.” He suggests they reconsider their engagement…
…which is when they walk outside and come face to face with Sung-chan and Jin-soo. (What a coincidence!) While everyone else stands around awkwardly, Bong-joo beelines for his brother and slams his fist into his face.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It’s cute to see how bumbling Sung-chan is when it comes to making amends with Jin-soo. He wants to say sorry, but fumbles badly each time. For instance, Jin-soo’s just about to cut him some slack when he shows up to the restaurant, but he misses the moment by answering the phone call from Joo-hee. Furthermore, he doesn’t even realize that of all people to be pushing Jin-soo aside for, Joo-hee is the worst possible one.
Then, when they run into each other at the fishing hole, she’s still upset and tries to leave right away. Rather than (1) saying sorry outright or (2) being extra solicitous, Sung-chan tries to maintain his composure but instead comes off gruff. To be fair, I think Jin-soo realizes that he’s having trouble, and knows he’s sorry. But after he was so quick to call her a calculating, manipulative traitor, he’s got to earn that forgiveness.
It’s only fitting, then, that what he is so bad at doing in words is achieved through his actions, and true to form, those actions are represented by food. Although Sung-chan wants to figure out the secret of the trout soup recipe for his own curiosity’s sake, it becomes evident that he’s even more driven by the goal of getting Jin-soo back to her old job.
It’s not that he’s doing this to earn back her forgiveness, which would ultimately be a selfish reason (more for his own peace of mind than hers). Rather, it’s because he knows how much being a food columnist means to Jin-soo, having met her mother and learned of her personal motivations for pursuing this career, and he refuses to let her throw that away. Especially because of himself.
One of the highlights for me comes in the scene when Sung-chan can’t figure out the recipe and is ready to call it quits, but remembers why he’s doing this in the first place. We can presume that Sung-chan’s process of trial and error (and failure) mirrors his father’s attempts back in the day, but ultimately Chef Oh had failed to learn the secret of the soup. The difference between the two men are that when they hit the wall, ready to give up, Sung-chan’s feelings for Jin-soo spur him to continue long enough to come upon the answer. At one point, the woman even offers to tell him the recipe out of pity, but he refuses, committed to figuring it out on his own. After all, he has to figure it out on his own in order to win the bet, and he has to win the bet to get Jin-soo back at her job.
The other highlight is the conversation at the mountaintop, because while it’s obvious that they have feelings for each other, most of the time Sung-chan and Jin-soo are just alluding to it in an indirect way. They’ve never put things into words, and here they do (kind of). They don’t explicitly say “I like you,” but talking about their fight and trying to explain his relationship with Joo-hee is the closest Sung-chan gets to talking about their relationship in clear terms, and I think this is because Sung-chan has been pushed to confronting issues for once, rather than running away. (Oh, the power of love?)
This is a minor point, but I thought Sung-chan resembled the manhwa character for the first time in this episode, no?