This memoir lives up to all the hype I’ve heard about it. It’s a moving portrait of a mother-daughter relationship. The book grew from Zauner’s award-winning essay, “Love, Loss, and Kimchi,” for Glamour magazine. Zauner narrates the audiobook.
I was incredibly moved by Zauner’s descriptions of caring for her mother during her illness and trying to connect with her mother after she died by watching YouTube videos to learn to cook the foods her mother hadn’t had time to teach her. Zauner describes how her mother’s friend made jatjuk when her mother couldn’t eat most foods because of the sores in her mouth. Jatjuk, Zauner explains, is often prepared for sick people. After her mother’s death, she wanted jatjuk, but she didn’t know how to make it, so she sought a recipe on Korean YouTube cook Maangchi’s channel. I’m embedding a video of her making jatjuk below, but I think it is a newer version than the one Zauner watched.
I teared up a bit listening to this part of the book because I, too, have learned cooking skills I had struggled to learn through watching the YouTube videos of Helen Rennie. In particular, after years of trying to learn pie crust, I watched this video in which Helen walks through some tips and tricks, and I finally, finally made a good pie crust.
I love these kinds of memoirs that combine a love of food and culture with a family history. I highly recommend this book, and I’m glad I (finally) read it.