A daughter has never been able to take her mind off the withering days of her mother in her mid-50s when stomach cancer ended the mom’s life. The daughter is still reminded of the sickening mother’s white tongue, purple skin due to a bedsore, sagging hair and drowsy eyes despite a reservoir of good memories shared with her mother. Spending days in pain and sufferings, she gets an expensive psychological consultation in New York but to no avail. She is left alone when her father disappears after her mother’s death.
The daughter has no one to lean on but instead finds self-consolation in cooking. She turns on a laptop in the kitchen to see South Korean YouTubers’ content. The process of arranging ingredients and sauces for cooking brings old good days with her mother to mind. She wants to give it a try at young radish kimchi and green cabbage kimchi. Once kimchi ferments for two weeks, it tastes like magic. If her mother were still alive, she would be proud of her daughter. The mother would jokingly said, “Don’t love a man if he does not like kimchi.”
She makes kimchi once a month. She puts it on the dining table along with other dishes, makes kimchi stew or kimchi pancake to share it with her friends. This is how she heals her soul and seats good memories in her mind. Making and eating kimchi turns out to be a better treatment than consulting a psychiatrist. Michelle Zauner of indie rock band Japanese Breakfast shares touching and warm experiences in a memoir titled “Crying in H Mart.” Born to a Korean mother and an American father, Zauner has once visited her mother’s country to perform rock music. Kimchi helps her erase painful memories of her weakening mother off her mind and pay condolences to her mother. Even seven years after her mother left her, she still cries at the thought of her mother when she drops by Korean grocery stores. The phrase “For mom,” placed on the next page to the title page, comes across as a deeply heart-felt message.