Saturday, June 03, 2006

I need to bitch.

I have been uber-stressed lately. School and work has taken its toll, the weather is changing violently (a weak excuse...maybe, but everyone I know has been sick at least once in the past month, myself included), and a bunch of people I know are leaving--among them, a handsome, young man who announced to me that he thought I was the coolest thing since sliced bread, just before he hopped a plane for a three-year contract in Hong Kong. On top of all this, I will be making a return back to the island at the end of this month. While I know most people would be thanking their lucky stars for a trip to Hawaii, for me, the thought of a return to my hometown causes nothing but anxiety and indigestion.

Living with roommates is starting to bug the shit out of me. Since living with messy people, I've become rather tidy. (OK, maybe not in my room, but the public parts of the house are usually quite in order.) I don't like to see piles of dishes in the sink, so I do most of the washing. We have had endless discussions where everyone has promised to do more, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the person who cares the most--me. But more than just the mess, my roommates have become like siblings. And I'm the big sister. I look after all the bills and I make all the repairs in the house. It seems that I am the only one who grasps the relationship between going to the grocery store and having food in the house, though they still recognize the need to eat, and since they know I'm always up early, I get asked to wake them up in the morning. They come in, when they can clearly see I am working, to share with me the smallest of details as to why they think their boss hates them, and they don't understand why I look irritated when I come home, intent on studying, to find them attached to my computer. Indeed, it's nice to have people around, and my roommates really are good people, but I realize more and more, that I'd rather just be on my own. To be fair, it makes sense that I should just delegate more responsibility (though I have tried with limited success) and be more upfront about personal boundaries, but I feel that these people are adults and it's not my place to educate them. What's more, I don't want the situation to escalate into anti-social behavior where I hide in my room when I'm home and put my name on all of my food, nor do I want to sit in the dark because someone has failed, even with several reminders, to pay the electricity bill. The new guy is a lot better than the girl who was here previously--he takes instruction well and has generally a strong sense of hygiene--but it seems that the other girl, has slacked off to compensate.

It's all just pissing me off.

I wake up very early in the mornings, sometimes at 3 or 4 o'clock, especially when I'm irritated. I really enjoy the quiet mornings and I find it's the only time that I have to myself. I can study, read, think and listen to music interruption free. I also can tidy up around the house without anyone getting in my way, whilst feigning guilt for allowing me to look after things.

This morning I was up at half four. I read the newspaper, and then I went into the kitchen to do the dishes. I studied for a bit, then, feeling bored with that, I went back to the kitchen, deciding to undertake a kim bap project.

Not so many people know this about me, but I really, really like the process of preparing food, and I especially like anything where I can chop anything into very small pieces. Really. For some reason, I find it exceptionally relaxing. I also find it interesting to devise new methods for chopping. (Yes, I know, really, I am going off the deep end.) But there's a lot more to chopping than hacking something to pieces. Using a good knife, you can julienne carrots, dice pineapple, mince ginger and put zucchini in to perfect french fry strips.

Making kim bap is a very involved process that requires a lot of patience for cutting, cooling and wrapping. It's basically a Korean sushi roll, and today I used cucumber, egg, spinach, sesame seeds and shitake mushrooms for the filling. In a nutshell, this is how it goes:

1. Cook the rice. Let it cool.
2. While the rice is cooking, use the steamer basket in the cooker to steam the mushrooms and spinach.
3. Cut the cucumber into strips, salt them, let them soak, and then rinse and dry.
4. Beat an egg and fry it thin like a crepe.
5. Cut the spinach, mushrooms and egg into fine strips.
6. Mix the rice with vinegar, sugar and a dash of salt.

Once everything is cool and into appropriate pieces, lay out seaweed on a bamboo roller, put down some rice, smear the rice with sesame oil, add the filling, and then roll firmly.

That's it. The finished project:

Here are some of the things I used to make the kim bap. One of the great things about living in Beijing is that products come from a variety of places. Here, I have Korean vinegar, Chinese sesame seeds and sesame oil, Japanese seaweed and sea salt, in the grinder, from Australia. Michael bought the rice cooker. Being a good member of the club of those who have a Chinese parent, he was shocked and appalled to find that our kitchen was lacking one when he arrived.
And then, when it was all done, I did all the dishes. Mom and Dad would be so proud; possibly more surprised.

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