General / Parenting

What’s Going on in Expatkimchi World?

I think it’s still OK for me to wish you a happy new year! In fact, consider me early for the lunar new year. After a long break, I’m back in the blogging saddle. There have been a number of things I’ve been working on during my absence. As I last wrote, we were in the process of moving. It was the third move in a 12-month period. That’s just too many, and I don’t recommend doing that ever. We also welcomed an au pair from South Korea, which I will write more about in my next post, and not to give away the end of the story, we also welcomed our au pair from Poland after saying good-bye to that au pair from South Korea.

In August, as everyone in Europe does, we went on holiday (hurrah!), and then my oldest child started school here in Germany. Her Einschulung (enrollment in school), which I describe in this post I wrote for the German Way expat blog, marked a shift in our daily life. Happily the shift has been good, and my first born has been thriving in her role in life as a school kid. Oddly enough, as it is in traditional Germany, this has also meant two hours less for working and writing or whatever else in my day since she comes home earlier than she had from Kindergarten. The two hours are swapped for quality time with my child, but I haven’t figured out how to find those hours somewhere else in my day.

So I’ve had to focus my remaining time on finishing a book project started more than a year ago. I’m excited to share that I’ve been editing the German Way Expat Guide, a book based on the German Way expat blog. I’ve been writing for this blog since 2009 and over these years, we’ve accumulated lots of helpful as well as insightful information that I’ve been working to compile into an expat guide. The book is scheduled to come out this summer so stay tuned for more!

During these last six months though, I have naturally thought about the direction of expatkimchi and what I’d like to do with it. I just saw this fitting blog post on BlogHer, which addresses some of the things that I’d been contemplating. I’m going to summarise the author’s points with my personal comments here:

  1. I like to eat food more than take pictures of it. Well, I think we can all agree on this point. But what’s funny is that it almost becomes a compulsion when you are food blogging, be it at home or when you are eating out, to snap a photo before you bite in. I don’t feel like I can relax, enjoy and just dig in though. Neither do my fellow diners. And don’t you find it somewhat jarring to be in a restaurant when fellow diners are snapping away at their plates? I definitely want to dial back that obsessive trigger finger.
  2. I have a family to feed. This one I find particularly relevant. And the answer to the question which Meredith, the author of this blog post, poses, is “yes,” food bloggers with small children have to cook when the kids aren’t there and underfoot. So, during the early days of expatkimchi a large chunk of my time in the mornings was spent drafting a recipe, trying it out, photographing it (I won’t deign to say styling. See #5 below.), and perhaps repeating if the recipe wasn’t so great. By the time it came to writing, editing and posting, I was already spent! This is how I felt before I lost those two hours to the new school routine.
  3. I’m not good at actions shots. I am not too bothered by this point. It’s not because I am good at action shots; it’s because I want to simply learn more about photography. One benefit of blogging for me is that I’ve finally gotten around to learning more about photography. I finally took a course and learned a thing or two about how to use my manual camera. There is much more to learn, such as figuring out how to take great action shots, but I am eager. This aspect of food blogging, although time consuming, I truly love.
  4. I’m not creative. Again, this one doesn’t bother me not because I’m claiming to ooze lots of creativity. Rather, I do like mixing and matching recipes. Of course, when pressed for time – which is often the case – I prefer to find the perfect recipe and just follow it, but often times it’s not there. I don’t seek the stress and thrills of pretending I’m a contestant on Chopped, but sometimes that is life. “I saw the bag of seaweed and saw the package of dried fish in the pantry and thought why not. I’ll make a soup out of these two.”
  5. Food is not meant to be pretty. It is meant to be eaten. Unfortunately, I have to agree with this point. I wish I was one who had a natural knack for aesthetics and a talent to whip up something beautiful on the plate that was equally delicious. But I don’t. That job belongs to someone else. Like my talented cousin who is a professional food stylist. We are not blood related in case you are wondering why I was spared her talents. I also lack the patience to make food as pretty as a picture. My heart goes into how it tastes. So go ahead and call me deep and unsuperficial!

This is all to say that I’ve decided to recast While I will still write about food: sharing successful, made-in-Germany Korean recipes and revealing my honest opinions about Korean restaurants, grocery stores and other related services, I want to include other related topics on this forum. If I focused on just food, you’d probably hear less from me and eventually nothing any more (see points 1, 2 and 3 above!).

I will be broadening expatkimchi to include more about my encounters in diasporic Korean parenting. I hope that didn’t sound overly esoteric. To take a step back, this blog was inspired by my experiences sourcing and exploring Korean food from the perspective of a mother feeding hungry-for-Korean-food children. So I am expanding my tagline and my blog posts to include stories on parenting my ethnically Korean children. I’ll be talking about the big challenge of teaching them Korean language as well as Korean traditions and values. These topics are already woven into many of my posts, but I am now making a point of writing specifically rather than tangentially about them. Brace yourselves for more!

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