Kimchi and Korean garlic.
I swear, the taste of kimchi in my mouth is the sweetest taste ever, and I could spend hours just sitting at the table, wrapping up pieces of it in lettuce with a big sticky clump of rice and rolling into my mouth. Yummmm....
Korean garlic for me is one of the best things ever created. I don't know what makes it different, or whether it's where it's grown in Korea - but for some reason, the taste of it has this sweetness to it that is just like sugar. For me, that is my aphrodisiac. Most people think I am crazy, but I didn't always love Korean food the way that I do now.
It was something I grew into - just like I grew into my skin, and I remember when I was nine years old I used to get my haircut at the local place down the street from my parents' house. K Hair Studio (took my mom forever to figure out that the K stood for Korean) was owned by Ms. Sunny. She was one of the most influential people in my life...harboring in that little shop all the Korean that one little girl could expose herself to.
Everytime I came in to get my haircut in the early mornings on the weekends, there'd be no one in the chairs, no one by the hair sinks...but you could smell this strong smell of garlic and kimchi coming from the back of the salon.
In the back was this two-by-two kitchen where Ms. Sunny and Ms. Su and their friends would sit and cook Korean food. This is how I learned how to eat kimchi. They would call me into their tiny kitchen and pull up a small chair to the card table they had set up in the middle. On the tabletop there was this array of fresh cut lettuce leaves and a huge bowl of kimchi and rice in the middle with plastic spoons that were wrapped in plastic wrap.
"Clump the kimchi and rice together, Eunjung-ee...yes, like that"
"Ahjuma likes her kimchi hot, look, put some extra pepper paste on yours. You'll learn to like it soon. This is what your ancestors ate..."
So now whenever I get monthly "cravings"...while everyone is out rummaging from chocolate bags, and chocolate mousse and chocolate cake... all I want is that sweet, crisp taste of kimchi and Korean garlic, to bring me back to the homeland.