Danmuji

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.