I took a big trip recently. Two weeks to Seoul, Kyoto, Hakone, and Tokyo. My first time traveling to Asia and my first time traveling abroad since college . The two weeks went by surprisingly quickly, as they always do. And now I’ve been back in New York for two weeks neglecting Pig n’ Pie (and all of our loyal fans!) and still reflecting on my trip. It’s taken me so long to sit down and write something because 1) we don’t actually have oodles of loyal fans patiently waiting (if you are reading this, thank you) and 2) I’ve been ashamed to admit that I made some blunders and embarrassing decisions while traveling. I ate western food more than once. I went to Starbucks (but not McDonald’s, never that). I only had one meal devoted solely to sushi. Navigating the foodscape in Korea and Japan was hard! I didn’t anticipate the struggle. And I’m not always the best dealing with the unexpected.
In the past, not being able to find that restaurant on the 8th floor of an unmarked building in Shinjiku would drive me crazy. I’d be wandering past many totally acceptable dining establishments, moronically set on finding the restaurant I read about in the guidebook. I didn’t do that this time.
I let go a little bit and I let Korea and Japan humble me. You can’t fully experience Korean and Japanese cuisine in your first visit! That’s crazy talk. Both of these countries have incredibly rich, thoughtful, and historical approaches to food. So maybe I’ll pull a Dev alla Master of None, but instead of Italy move to Tokyo to master the art of sushi making. But more seriously, I am going to take more risks cooking, without cursing myself when the results are subpar. And I’m going to make kimchi! Very unoriginal of me to choose the archetypal example of Korean food, but I’m starting with the classics. Plus, I’ve already listened to a podcast, which in millennial speak means I’m basically an expert.