makali and kimchi
Whenever it rains in Seoul, my husband wants to eat jon (like a savoury pancake) and drink makali (milky colored Korean rice wine). Apparently it’s traditional “rainy weather” food and on rainy days we’ve been to restaurants that sell jon and makali and they’ve been pretty busy. There are lots of scenes in Korean dramas of eating jon in the rain too. The scene from Brilliant Legacy (starring Dong Yi’s Han Hyo joo) comes to mind with the scene in episode 4, where Go Eun sung (Han Hyo joo) the poor heroine meets a halmoni, old lady, and ends up letting her stay at her flat because she has lost her memory. Go Eun song comes home in the pouring rain and suggests that they eat kimchi jon.
할머니, 오늘은 비 오니까 김치전 부쳐 드릴까요?
Shall I make some kimchi jon since it’s raining?
You’ve got flour, right?
kimchi jon made from kimchi, flour and water, but anything can be added really – seafood, chilies or spring onion etc…
When I ask why it’s become popular to eat jon and drink makali on rainy days I’m told that rainy weather simply suits this kind of food. (Of course it’s ok to eat jon on sunny days too. But the mood is different.)
We are well into the rainy season in Seoul now and last week we had plenty of rain and mad rain too – the kind that comes from nowhere. One minute it’s a bright sunny day, the next minute there’s a downpour. We popped over to see my in-laws as my sister-in-law and her family, who live abroad but have been back visiting Seoul for a holiday, were due to leave Seoul again. We went out for a last meal together. Barbecue duck.
The atmosphere was lively when we arrived at the restaurant in the sun and everyone was chatting and eating, but when it was time to leave and wave my sister-in-law and family goodbye, the mood became more solemn and the rain clouds came out in sympathy. We stood and watched them drive away and my mother-in-law fought back the tears with the thought of her daughter and young grandchildren leaving Korea again. After they had gone, to cheer ourselves up we took my parents-in-law to a small nearby drinking establishment and ordered chon and makali. Korean folk music played in the background while traffic rattled by outside in the pouring rain. We were the only customers as it was still too early for the evening crowd. Two ajumma (I’ve used the dreaded word again) working there sat at the other side of the room with a large bowl of spring onions, stripping off the outer leaves while we quietly drank our makali watching the world go by.