50

[Dramas and Food] And then there was Let’s Eat 2

By @Ally

I have a huge confession to make. Historically, I have not enjoyed eating. Not in an I-have-an-eating-disorder-way or anything, but some people just eat to live, while others live to eat. I was the toddler that my parents had to chase around the house to eat, the last child at the table because I wouldn’t finish my food, and the first teenager done because I finally realized that life happened when I was being held hostage by my food.

In all scenarios, I didn’t enjoy eating. Because I didn’t like eating, I hated cooking. My poor future husband had to endure my one attempt at cooking for him while we were datingβ€”an overly dry roast in a crockpot slow cooker, which was like chewing leatherβ€”and he still married me. That is why he’s the chef in our family, and a good one at that. They say that when you’re married to a person long enough, you start becoming like them. I wish that were the case with my cooking. Unfortunately not! But I have come to appreciate food much more than prior, and I do have K-dramas to partially thank for that. Not only this, but dramas have also taught me that food is one of the cornerstones of building lasting relationships. Many of you know that I have a K-drama club, where several women between the ages of 38 and 65 share a meal and an episode of a K-drama. Although they have experienced many other aspects of life, these were K-drama virgins, and almost perfect strangers. Although K-dramas speak for themselves, it’s the food that we eat when we get together that has made this group and our relationships with each other thrive.

We started Let’s Eat 2 for my husband. I had no interest in seeing a foodie show, one where he would drool all over and then want me to try to cook for him (which he does ask me to do on occasion). I still don’t have a fondness for cooking; I’m too klutzy to make it through preparing a meal unscathed. But it had Seo Hyun-jin, whom I just saw and loved on Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim, so I didn’t protest too loudly. As I watched I saw myself in the series, but not in the female lead. I am the exact opposite of her, actually. No, it was the awkward second lead, Sang-woo, with whom I identified. For those not familiar with his character, he was not a food-lover, never had food in his fridge, never felt the pangs of hunger, and didn’t think about his next meal, even as his date was starving! He just saw eating as a means to live. He is exactly what I was before meeting my husband and learning to appreciate food and how food is prepared. The character saw food as just a means to an end and not really an experience to enjoy. He was also a loner, without many friends, and no place to foster these friendships.

From the first episode of Let’s Eat 2, where Chinese food was front and center, served authentically family-style, I was hooked. I’d never seen food prepared in a drama and the food cinematography was gorgeous. But it was the ddeokbokki seen in the flashback with a young Soo-ji eating at a young Dae-young’s mother’s restaurant, that had my novice-cooking-self thinking, “Hey! I can make that!” And I did, but added a lot of other things to make it more Vietnamese-American, so fusion, the best of all cultures rolled into one. And if you want to try it.

But it wasn’t just that. When Dae-young goes to the Indian restaurant with Sang-woo, I don’t know why I was so culturally insensitive, but I thought, “Why would there be an Indian restaurant in Korea?” But there it was. Well-appropriated, serving food that I was familiar with, having good friends who are immigrants. And we had Indian curry the next day. So, while eating naan and our curry, I felt another connection to Korea, ironically, and a better appreciation of this small world we live in. A Korean show reminding me of my Indian friend, and the food that tied us all together.

Another dish that we made that came from not just this show, but every Korean drama ever, was hangover soup. Now, thankfully, I’ve never really needed this to treat a nasty hangover, but how prevalent must drinking to excess be if a whole culture has a soup dedicated in their post-intoxication rituals? Food serves as a healing elixir in many East Asian cultures, so again, I shouldn’t have been surprised that it would be featured in such a prominent way. But I’ve noticed that for a stuffy nose and colds, and even allergy relief, hangover soup does the trick to clear out those nasal passages, make you more alert, as well as fill that hole in your belly. And what person from any culture can’t relate to being ill or hungover?

But truthfully, it was the Korean food that I had no idea existed until I watched Let’s Eat 2 that kept me coming back for more and maybe even wanting to cook more. That, and Dae-young’s hilarious man-splaining that was the cherry on top. To try to find these dishes in middle America where the immigrant population is less than one percent is nearly impossible, and so, besides for the Korean barbecue fare and kimchi, so many of the soups featured were unknown to me and if I wanted to try them, I would have to make them.

Thankfully my K-drama foodie friends are always up to try new foods, and trying new Korean dishes is mandatory! The rooftop meals featured in the series underscore how important food is in developing relationships, which I didn’t really understand growing up, but now savor because it has given me such good friends. I hope to be able to try the kimchi-crab soup, kkotgaetang, someday, and probably in Korea, and probably with my K-drama friends with origins all over the world. Because I’ve learned that it is food that brings people together and also because crab is very expensive to come by when you don’t live near a coast! And when I make that trip, I’ll be sure to call Dae-young up to have him explain to me the origins of the dish!

 
RELATED POSTS

Tags:

50

Required fields are marked *

Great post! Now that I think of it, I'm not really into eating either. I often get annoyed at mealtime that I have to eat something AGAIN and I just grab whatever foods are nearest and mix them together and stuff it down my face hole.

But, I do enjoy the food when I'm going to dinner at someone else's house or to a restaurant. So I guess if I don't have to make it, then I enjoy eating it. And drama food always makes me hungry. Maybe that's just the Doojoon effect? 😜

9
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

The Doojoon effect is scientifically proven, yes.

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Studies have yet to prove which is more deadly: the dreaded doojoon effect or the junho food hurricane. Help me fund this research.

5
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think you just need to throw those names for people to fund it XD

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I am SO EXCITED for Let’s Eat 3. Doojoon-ah!!!

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I second this! Or third?

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I love this post! I haven't seen Let's Eat 2, but this makes me want to. While eating lots of delicious foods, of course :D

8
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Do watch it with some snacks prepared...they make absolutely everything look good!!

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you for this very persuasive essay, @ally-le!
I like baking (immediate gratification, anyone?), but never really enjoyed making proper meals...
However, making food for your loved ones and for your friends is something I've learned to enjoy very much. Especially the part where you have to go to a restaurant to taste the real thing first!

5
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Same!! I love baking and I'm really good at it, but cooking is another thing entirely. I have tons of cooking books, and whenever I make something I like it, but it's not something I look forward to/enjoy as much as baking!

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes! I love to bake, but then we have too many goodies in our house and it's dangerous...!

I give most of them away: it's a total win-win. I get to bake (which makes me happy) and my friends and neighbors enjoy getting treats!

I do wish that I enjoyed regular cooking as much...

At least I love tasting cuisine from all over the world! It is almost like travelling! ^^

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Heheheh, completely relate! My mom ends up taking half of whatever it is I bake to her office ^^

I lost my appetite and taste, so I've been trying to cook more lately, just to pump myself into eating heh, and it's been working well! I'm super lazy, but still do it, and end up enjoying the process.
Agree! Nothing like tasting food from someplace else, made by someone from that country ^^

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I’d rather bake than cook as well! I can make some mean macarons! And lemon bars!

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Mmmm!
Can we have those for the next Beanie event? Please?

Where I live, they are very excited by authentic American cookies and simple stuff. Always having a bakery nearby means that most people don't learn how to bake. Crazy.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for an entertaining essay, @ally-le.

I truly enjoyed LET'S EAT 2. It features gobs of seafood that I would have to steer clear of in real life. But seeing it onscreen doesn't trigger anaphylaxis, so I can watch in safety. And it's a hoot to see the eager eaters tie into the delicacies with gusto.

That scene at the Indian restaurant was great. I've loved Indian food for many years. Some parts of New Jersey have large Indo-Pakistani populations, so it's not difficult to find excellent eateries as well as grocery stores. Years ago, I took an Indian cooking class at the local adult school, and had a blast.

Your FreeTheKimchi food pron looks scrumptious! Are the rice wrappers used for fried spring rolls? I recall having thumb-size Thai spring rolls at Keo's original restaurant in Honolulu. Wrap them in lettuce leaves, dip in a thin, sweet sauce with chopped peanuts, and enjoy. -- Thanks for sharing your recipes and photos. ;-)

4
7
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, the rice wrappers are definitely for fresh or fried spring rolls. Although, it’s really hard to make fried spring rolls with them without them splitting, so we prefer the thicker spring roll wraps that are usually frozen or refrigerated.

1
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you for clearing that up.

How do you moisten the dried rice wrappers? Do you submerge them one at a time in a large shallow pan of water? Should the water be room temperature, warm, or cold? For how long do you dunk them? What should properly moistened rice wrappers feel like?

Thanks! ;-)

0
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

One at a time, 1 second dunk, start putting the meat or other filling in and roll. By the time you get to the rolling part, it should be soft enough. Put it on the hot oil ASAP to start the cooking process and prevent splitting.

1
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

We do lukewarm water. I don’t know if that’s correct and a shallow plate or bowl is good.

1

Many thanks! I've wondered how to use them, and have some on the shelf. ;-)

1

I meant to ask if they can be used for making lumpia, or if that's a different kind of wrapper.

0

That’s a different egg roll/spring roll wrap. It’s usually in the frozen section.

1

What a lovely post @ally-le! Having read some of your blog, I'd never have thought you were not a food person. :) And I digress a little, but I'm so happy you like (north) Indian cuisine. ^^

4
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Indian cuisine is SO freaking delicious, I always drool whenever I see something related to it.
I bought "Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen" book a couple of years ago and I still have to make something I don't like, it's amazing!

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Wohooo! Yes as far as veg food goes, I do think Indian has the most variety. It may have something to do with large vegetarian population? 20-40% of 1.21 billion people, depending on which study you ask.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I love it! My kids do too! They have to, with the company we keep! We have some great north Indian cooks in our circle of friends. I haven’t tried cooking anything myself, but I’ll eat it any time!

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Woohoo! ^^

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Amazing post @ally-le! I haven't watched Let's Eat 2 yet but the pictures sure do make it look appetising. I can relate to your "living to eat" stance because that was the exact same mindset I had when I was younger. I'd just eat to get the lunch or dinner over with so that we could go back to watching TV/ playing etc. However, as I grew older I learned to savour different food and appreciate new things and unique tastes. Now I take my time whilst eating because it builds better memories that way.

Also there are a lot of foreign restaurants/foreign cusines in Itaewon, Korea eg.Indian, Turkish, Arab etc.

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I meant to say "eat to live" πŸ˜‚

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

"Because I’ve learned that it is food that brings people together and also because crab is very expensive to come by when you don’t live near a coast!"

I thought this sentence was gonna be emotional but it suddenly became economical πŸ˜‚.

7
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Great post by the way. Although I'm not much of a cook, I love hearing about good food.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, @ally-le is a master of understated wit. If you don't already, you should read her OT comments.
*puts on shades to try to pretend to be half as cool as Ally*

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Awe! This was so sweet! I did miss the open thread last week though! First week in 68 that I’ve missed!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Great post @ally-le ! I would NEVER have thought you were not a "food" person, as I have sneaked a peek at your blog and your recipes! I am one of those that think (read: dream and drool) about their next meal while eating the current one. I haven't seen the Let's Eat series but maybe I should, just to discover more drool worthy dishes!

4
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm one of those people too! I'll ask my hubby what he wants for lunch or dinner while we are eating breakfast and he's all "I don't know! I just ate!" LOL!

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes! You will LOVE the series!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful post. To your point, I love how kdramas make lovers (and eaters) of us all!!

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Wonderful article! I am the live to eat type and my husband is the eat to live type. He's absolutely said before that he usually only eats because he has to in order to live. He doesn't get excited about food most of the time. There are only a couple of things that get him close to experiencing my love of food. And in my mind, I just can't grasp the concept of not loving food - I've had many a "food-gasm". LOL!
And Dae Young is one of my favorite characters, along with the Let's Eat series. I feel like I really *get* Dae Young. He's my kind of people! :)

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Even without the food. Dae Young is definitely β€œmy type” of people too. 😜

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

LOL! I'd happily watch more installments of Let's Eat *just* for Dae Young. He was such a great character! Looking forward to Part 3 coming soon! :)

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ah, food. It's so many things .... it's nourishment, it's culture, it's memories, it's science, it's art, it's a connection with people .... but the list goes on and on, really, because food means different things to everybody .

Thanks for sharing what it has meant to you and how Let's Eat 2 has inspired you to try new foods while also strengthening bonds with your lovely kdrama foodie friends. 🍲

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Wonderful writing @ally-le and so true, food is so often the crux of relationship building 😊😊
This makes me want to watch Let’s Eat 2 ~

Also I wish I could be a part of a food and kdrama group...

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

the first time i watched a food show i thought that it would be pretty boring and dumb but was i wrong! Korean show just know how to make cooking and food so scrumptious that i want to try it myself and i have. i get craving Korean food so i either have to go to my fave restaurant or make something at home. these shows are so addicting because not only do they give you a foray into Korean food and show you how even, but the "cooks,guests and hosts" become so fun and real! i love seo jin from his cooking shows as much as dramas and Eric and now seo joon. these are some of my fave shows. i like knowing who out there can cook also. it adds a dimension to them!

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

@ally-le
First of all, I didn't expect Gong Yoo oppa to greet me when I clicked on that link. I should've known better! (also, thank you)
I love, love, love that you found a nice group of women who share your interest in Korean food, meeting up to cook different things sounds awesome; I must say I'm a bit jealous!
Let's Eat is such a fantastic show to learn of so many different Korean dishes! I admire the way in which they always enjoy whatever it is they're eating, but my favorite part, for sure, is how important they make it to eat with dear ones.
As always, I really enjoyed reading you, Ally! Thanks for sharing!

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I loved this! All the screencaps seriously have me drooling now, remembering back when I watched Let's Eat 2 way past dinnertime and having to sneak in leftovers so I don't die of hunger.
Also, you're definitely right that the Let's Eat series portrays Korean food very deliciously. Before the series, I wasn't sure if I really liked the flavor of Korean food (although it's readily available in SoCal), but after watching it I've come to appreciate many Korean dishes that I hadn't before, and that has brought me closer to my Korean friends as well. I often ask them or their mothers to cook for me ;)

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Aww man... from one non-foodie to another, I hear you about the fact that food means relationships rather than just the tummy-filling.... now I want an invite to your 1D9D party - 1 Drama 9 Dishes!!!

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Your Ahjumma kdrama club sounds like a lot of fun. I have some friends I was planning to do this with recently - cook Korean food and watch some kdrama. The plans fell through but I'm feeling inspired to try again.

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Mine was on a whim. And the stars aligned and it just happened! Like most good relationships, I wasn’t even looking for it.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I just got back from an internetless trip, and was greeted by all these nice comments and another published post of my ramblings! Thank you, as always, and I feel my writing may be getting a little more refined, as has my palate!

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I hope that your trip was all you were wishing for...!
❀️

1
reply

Required fields are marked *