Birthday Soup

“What’s your favorite food?”

This is one of the hardest questions to answer. Honestly, I am not a picky eater and can almost eat anything edible. During my freshman year of college, I performed an experiment on myself: what kind of food am I able to eat everyday without getting sick of it? Surprisingly, a lot. I could eat pizza, PB&J sandwiches, pho, tacos, pasta, and cereal everyday for every single meal. It was absolutely disgusting. Therefore when I say that I have no specific preference as to what my favorite dish is, the following question is something like:

“If you HAD to choose, what would it be?”

I am pretty comfortable to say that I wouldn’t have to ever do that, but the food that enters my cloud of thoughts is a Korean dish called, “미역국,” pronounced “mee-yuk-gook.” “Mee-yuk” means seaweed and “gook” means soup. It is a popular Korean dish. It’s usually served for people on their birthdays or women after labor.


Basically, it looks like this.

It’s not super flavorful and could be very bland. I like it because it’s healthy and versatile. You can insert meat, seafood, rice, or even noodles to the soup. Most importantly, I have strong memories and attachment to this dish.

It was my 13th birthday. Because my grandfather passed away few months before my birthday, my family was still mourning. It was an exciting day for me because I was finally a teenager, but with the unfortunate circumstance and everyone working so hard, I did not receive a proper birthday celebration. No presents, no cake, not even a phone call. I came home late after hanging out at my friend’s house after school, and my parents were asleep. I went to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. I found a note on top of a closed pot that read, “I am sorry and happy birthday.” It was from my mom and I ate the soup with tears in my eyes.


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