Last Sunday while on the Lower East Side, I stumbled upon Pickle Day . I had somewhere to go, but I like pickles, so I walked around. To a bit of my surprise, about half the tables were manned by kimchi vendors.
Everyone was giving out samples, but I ended up taking home two jars of Mother In-Law’s Kimchi. It is the best I have ever had. I got a jar of the fresh and another that had been aged a month. They both are made from napa cabbage, but the latter has had more time to ferment and is more sour. It’s not bad, but I really loved the fresh stuff, which is pretty darn hot. I brought some into work, and the consensus was, “Pretty good, but I can’t eat it without rice.” In other words...pussies!
It’s $9 a jar, and I can eat a jar’s worth in about 4 days. I know this, because it’s now Thursday, and I don’t have any left.
Speaking of all this, according to a story in the Times, the price of kimchi in Korea has shot up, due to a poor napa crop. I’m not an expert, but I think kimchi is essentailly the national food. It is a side-dish, a main dish, and everything in between except for dessert. In other words, they eat a lot of it, like a lot a lot, so this is serious business. The president of the country has gotten involved.
The Times reports,
Meanwhile, there have been reports of cabbage rustling in rural areas, and the government has suspended tariffs on imported cabbage and radishes from China, beginning Thursday. The president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak, has said that until the crisis eases he will eat only the cheap and inferior kind of cabbage — the round-headed variety commonly found in Europe and the United States.
“There is no reason for regular folks to have to buy items integral to daily life at higher prices than international prices,” Mr. Lee said at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, while instructing his economists to more closely monitor commodity prices that have sent the South Korean consumer price index to a 17-month high.
The price increases have caused many middle- and lower-income homemakers to cancel the making of kimchi at home this year, a traditional rite of autumn that typically brings together mothers, daughters, aunts, grannies and neighbors. Some families can go through a couple of hundred heads of cabbage, and it’s not unusual for all the bathtubs and sinks in a house to be filled with bobbing cabbages as they are washed, soaked and brined.
Also, I had no idea what a napa cabbage was until I saw this picture. I imagined the lettuce-sized stuff we have here. Either those people are midgets, or those things are friggin’ huge!