The recipe calls for water, rice vinegar, sugar, turmeric,
and, of course, sliced daikon – a hybrid of a carrot and a rolling pin.
The turmeric was unexpected, but will give the danmuji
its signature neon yellow color and allow “quick pickling.” Okay.
I boil the mixture and feel like a fraud in my concrete kitchen
in a Lego-house condo in an East Austin development
that has its own logo and economics-themed street names.
I peek through mini blinds at a smug corgi mix trotting up Stock Avenue
on a cheetah-print retractable leash.
I am not a streetside eatery with white tiles, orange tabletops,
little blue stools. I do not have a giant rice cooker
or plastic-wrapped counter dedicated to kimbap construction.
My streets are wide and my sidewalk is even.
But the pickling juice is boiling, ready. I pour it over the radish slices
in an open Tupperware. It sloshes and settles.
The steam makes the container feel just a little too malleable. It’s fine.
I place it in the fridge next to the pasta sauce
and leave a dusting of turmeric on the cutting board,
a trail exposing my attempt,
and sit, mouth half watering, half waiting to get caught.
Jenna Jaco is a 2015-2016 ETA at Changpyeong High School in Jeollanam-do.