Kimchi for Lunch · 13 February 2021

Even though I do not have them very often, I am going to miss having smelly food for lunch.

I am heading back to the school building after being away for almost a year. It will be good for my psyche. It will be good for my social (even though we are still social distancing). It will be good for my soul. It will be good just to be back at work even if the kids are not there. Yes, I have been working this whole time, but it is different teaching and working from home.

To be sure, it has been a huge blessing to be able to work from home. As I mentioned in the fall, I would not have been able to open the school year because of my shingles had we not had the pandemic. The pain was too great and I needed to be home so I could take pain medication, which precluded driving. And after the pain had subsided enough for me to start driving again, I had gotten into a routine that worked. I did not need to go to the building, so I kept telecommuting.

One of the nice things about telecommuting is that you do not need to worry about eating stinky food at lunch. Nobody else can smell it or make fun of it or scrunch their noses at it. Nobody can say, “Who nuked the fish?” or “Who brought the kimchi?” Or whatever other food people think is a bit smelly for the lunch room. Which means that every so often, I have eaten fish and kimchi for lunch while I have been at home.

I am not sure I would eat kimchi at school anyway. Not that I am too worried about people scrunching their noses at what I eat. Yes, I do follow the lunch room etiquette of not eating smelly food. But I would not eat kimchi at work because I usually like it with hot rice (which is not a problem), but I never really know how much I want to eat. Which means that I would need to leave my jar of kimchi in the staff refrigerator.

While I doubt anybody would take any of my kimchi if I did leave it in the refrigerator, I would be afraid of somebody mistaking it for trash. To be sure, most food can and does stay in the refrigerator unmolested until it comes to life and walks away on its own two legs. Or until a long break is coming and somebody decides to clean. But I would be afraid that somebody might mistake my kimchi as rotten food and actually throw it away before its time.

I admit. Kimchi is certainly a smelly food. And some people mistake its aroma for the stench of rotting food. Probably because it is fermented cabbage. Which means that technically it is rotting food, and so the smell of something rotting is appropriate. But fermentation brings its own health benefits. Fermentation (at least of cabbage) brings with it probiotics.

I must say that I do not eat kimchi because of probiotics. Nor do I eat it because I ate it as a child. When I was young, I turned my nose up at it. I thought it was smelly and gross. But I tried it one time, and have liked it ever since. Not that it is a staple in our house, but we do get it from time to time.

Which brings me back to where I started. I am going to miss eating kimchi and other smelly foods for lunch. It is not that I would not willingly share my food and its smells with others. It is that I respect their noses. And of course, it is because I do not want others sharing what most of us would call smelly foods. After all, nobody I know wants people sharing the aroma of Limburger cheese or Lutefisk. So I will not share my odoriferous foods at lunch either. Even if I will miss them.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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