David and me in Korea (October 2002).
During the 1950s, my twin uncles were students at a college in Oregon. To stretch their budget, they had been eating a lot of rice, flavored with ketchup to make it taste better.
The morning after they returned to Hawaii, their mother (my grandmother) made them rice, eggs, and coffee. The twins began pouring ketchup on their rice and eggs.
Grandma was shocked. She said, “If you put ketchup in your coffee, too, I’ll quit cooking for you.”
As you know, we Koreans prefer to eat our rice plain with no sauce or seasoning of any kind. We eat rice with kim chee (pickled cabbage) and different types of meat.
So, there I was with my Irish boyfriend from New York in 1977, having dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Honolulu. Two married couples, friends of mine, sat with us. One couple was a local Japanese woman married to a Jewish man from New York, and the other couple was a local Filipino woman married to an English man from Virginia.
Prior to this meeting, I had bragged to them about my boyfriend being a highly intelligent medical doctor, who had graduated from Stanford University, and what a great catch he was.
Well, dinner was served. My boyfriend looked at his plate and said to the waitress, “May I have a small cup of melted butter?”
The waitress did as she was told and brought him the melted butter. My boyfriend poured it over his rice.
Ugh! What a crazy thing to do. Why would anyone want to ruin perfectly good rice?
The next day, my Japanese friend phoned me and said, “Gigi, I am so unimpressed with your boyfriend! He doesn’t even know how to eat rice.”
Fast forward to the present and I am now married to David, a white man who was born in California but raised in Hawaii. He knows better than to pour melted butter or ketchup on his rice. He eats it plain as he is supposed to.