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Phunque’s Desk - the smell of kim chee

Some days the prospect of coming up with 600 words about something produces absolutely no options. This morning I told the Wife, “I need to write a Phunque’s Desk by noon Friday and I don’t have a single ideas.” I did want to write about ice fishing, but I did that not long ago and I’m fairly certain I haven’t found out anything new since then. I wanted to write about ice fishing because I wanted to go ice fishing. We were sitting down to lunch Thursday and I have kim chee with lunch. Her eyes lingered on my plate and she said, “The smell of kim chee,” and her lip curled.

She has been having trouble eating lunch and supper. Smells trigger something that makes her sick. She generally has cereal for breakfast which goes down fine. For lunch she has French toast and for supper she has fruit from a can.

Kim chee, from what I have read, is the national food of Korea. They have kim chee with everything. They make a big pot of it and keep it for years, adding as they go and letting it ferment as time passes. Archaeologist Dave Breternitz spent a year in Korea and said, “It would have been fine if it hadn’t been for that damned kim chee.”

I, on the other hand, like it. I’m sure that mine is an Americanized version. I have some nearly every day at noon.

The basis for kim chee is Napa cabbage. You can’t buy that in Dove Creek. Don’t even try. Some recipes don’t call for much other than Napa cabbage and peppers. Mine has a whole lot more. I use radishes, carrots, green onions, turnips, cauliflower, Anaheim peppers, and Jalapeños. Sometimes the Wife, who is the shopper in the family, finds other things that will work, but at this moment, I can’t think of what any of them are called.

The first step in making kim chee is to dice up the Napa cabbage into bite sized pieces and put in salt, just like sour kraut. You cover it in water and leave that for 24 hours and then you rinse that until it is just a little salty - salty to taste. Then you dice up everything else and mix it all in a big pot adding a container of pepper paste, that I also can’t remember the name of (If the Wife dies I’m in big trouble.) I generally add some Sriracha sauce, too because I like things hot. The Wife contends that I have eaten so much spicy foods that I have ruined my taste buds.

Kim chee is fermented, so you leave it out of the fridge as long as you dare. I have left it out so long it molded, so that doesn’t work. I don’t know how the Koreans can maintain this stuff for years. But I’m not going over there to find out. Let me tell you, a gallon of vegetables down the garbage disposal is work.

I make it a gallon jar at a time. I let it sit on the counter for nearly a week, releasing pressure from the jar every day.

Actually the Superette had a selection of kim chee a few days ago and the Wife carried one home. I ate up the last of my gallon and started on the pint she bought. It was good, maybe not as good as mine, but still good. I was in the process of making another gallon at the time, so having a supplement was a good thing. You have to plan a few days in advance to keep your kim chee supply steady. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a problem with the smell of kim chee. It smells like pepper, especially when I sprinkle a little cayenne dust on top.

Still, the Wife may be right. My tongue may be nearly dead.

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