Meals 107: Remembering my grandparents

portraits of Jen Lee's grandparents

Portraits of my grandparents, and the meal we offered to them

My dad was only ten years old when his father passed away. His mother, on the other hand, saw him through college, marriage, and the birth of his first child (thaaaat’s me!). Healthy as a horse, she was constantly cooking, shopping, traveling, nagging, pinching our cheeks. I thought she would outlive all of us.

Incense for Korean death anniversary ceremony

My dad preparing the incense

My grandparents passed away on the same day in late January, but forty years apart. Every year, we commemorate my grandparents’ death anniversary with a small ceremony at home. My dad prepares a speech with family updates, and my mom cooks up edible spiritual offerings, which we eat after the ceremony. The ceremony evolves a bit each time – for example, accordingly to tradition, we’re not supposed to offer pork to the spirits, but this year, my dad insisted that we serve sam gyup sal (Korean pork belly meat – see my previous post for a picture) to my grandfather, as it was one of his favorite foods. I can only wonder how my sister and I will adopt this tradition when we’re old enough to be concerned with commemorating death anniversaries.

I love reconnecting with my Korean roots at the end of the day, even though I consider myself first and foremost American.

breakfast with salad and cereal

Breakfast: Salad, Puffins cereal with soymilk

CL3 ham and cheese sandwiches, salad, broccoli

Lunch: Ham and cheese sandwich corners, broccoli, mixed greens

dinner with fish, sam gyup sal, seaweed soup, kimchi

Dinner: Pan-fried fish, sam gyup sal (pork belly), seaweed soup, kimchi

Dessert: Gigantic strawberries

My mom, admiring the strawberry

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