Here's a secret about me: I really don't care much for kimchi. Never have. Cucumber kimchi is tolerable to me, and I will eat cabbage kimchi to be polite, but if I never had to eat the stuff again for the next century or so, I wouldn't complain.
It's not the smell (I sort of like the smell). It's not the spiciness, although some of my lack of enthusiasm may have stemmed from my younger days when, as a child, I didn't even like to drink Coke because of the way the sharp bubbles hurt my mouth (also, my older brother loved cola and he was the mother of all monstrous older brothers, so I often took a dislike to things he enjoyed).
I do like some spicy things. My all-time favorite Korean comfort food is sundubu, which is not too heavily spicy but it's enough to put off a lot of people who grew up on nothing less bland than meatloaf. I don't really care much for the kochu-less kimchi either, so I really don't think that's it. I've never been a fan of cabbage, so that may be where this comes from.
I love kyŏja, that wasabi-like mustardy liquid that I so liberally squeeze into my naengmyŏn that any bite will cause a numbing sensation to shoot through my nose — I can't tell you how much I love that feeling.
Ask a group of adult KoKos (Korean-Koreans, born and raised) if they dislike kimchi, and no one will answer yes. Ask the same group of people with their eyes closed (yes, I've tried this) and you will get about 10% admitting that they don't like kimchi at all.
We are the upper ten percent.
[photo: Makes me want to have pizza]
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