My Memory : Grandma said, "I want SWEET PUMPKIN PORRIDGE."


I want Sweet Pumpkin Porridge.
said my grandma with a diaper, lying on the corner of her room.

It’s been around a month since she discharged from hospital. She stayed with a carer hired by government. She could hardly urinate and defecate properly. She took laxatives and diuretics every morning and evening. She also needed a help for supporting her to the toilet. In the end, she lost her energy to stand up and wear a diaper for hygienic reasons.

She had to eat porridges since her condition was not as normal, She needed soft food easily digested. And her gum no longer sustained her teeth on the right position. That came to porridge for her meal. Since then, our refrigerator was always filled with numerous kinds of porridge. 

pumpkin porridge

I want Sweet Pumpkin Porridge.

said grandma, looking into the refrigerator, sustaining her body against her walking frame. And then she stared at mom, both frowned. Mom worries about grandma’s blood sugar level more than anyone. Grandma was diagnosed as diabetes about 10 years ago. Mom was concerned about negative effect from sugar and strictly banned buying any sugar added food for grandma.

But the situation was different. Grandma was dying. We could not assure whether grandma would stay alive until next winter or even summer. Mom thought for a while and promised her to buy pumpkin porridge but less sweet one sold by a store she trusted.

Pumpkin porridge was laid on the second layer of the refrigerator, the day after. Grandma should’ve been so glad to see it. But after the day, it was there, and few days more passed, it was still there. Grandma must not have found it yet. Because she could no longer reach to the kitchen anymore.
pumpkin porridge
I decided to eat pumpkin porridge and took it to the microwave. It smelled so delicious. I felt guilty, because I seemed stealing her food somehow. So, feeling sorry for her, I retuned half of it to its place of the refrigerator. I brought warm yello bowl to my room.


One spoon.
It tasted sweeter than ever. I felt like I was soaking an enormous amount of sugary pumpkin candies. There I found few white rice balls, that was chewy and comforting.

Soon, I recalled grandma grunting for sweets forbidden. Everytime she held up snacks, she always asked me, “Is it sweet or not?” with a wanting look. I had to tell her unfortunate truth. “Grandma, almost every snack contains sugar in it. So you must think there’s no snack you can eat.” Grandma put down a cracker on a cover of which said ‘health-friendly, containing a hint of real pumpkin.’

Another spoon. It still tasted sweet. It looked healthier with dim yellow pumpkin fractions. But strangely, I hardly feel the texture of it.

Again, I heard grandma crying, lying on her bed. She said, “I can hardly feel my leg. It doesn’t move as I want.” It was the moment her walking began to be awkward. My parents discussed and concluded that she would better stay at the hospital cared by professionals. She stayed almost one month in the patient room.


Another spoon. It tasted less sweeter than before. Its extraordinary sweetness must have numbed my taste-buds. Studying blander yellow liquid, I found red beans inside. I crashed a red thing with a spoon.

Again, I recalled grandma wailing and said, “My legs hurt so much. My back hurts.” again in her room, but lying on the floor since she preferred a lower place where she could crawl on. She was home not because she had recovered, but the hospital had no treatment left to fix her. She had to bear her excruciating pain by herself relying only on pills. She had some sleepless nights, moaning in the darkness.

pumpkin porridge

The last spoon. It tasted blank. Nothing left in the bowl. It showed white bottom with a hint of yellow spots of pumpkin. I scarcely felt things but a bit tiredness. I could not find the sweetness that had once impressed me.

Grandma summoned me to her room with a low voice. I didn’t respond. She called me again with a bigger voice and I didn’t answer. She furiously shouted at me again and again as she bursted out her anger. I wanted to shut my ears. I did’t want to hear it.

But She seemed never to stop calling me. I trudged to her room with a glum look. She smiled at me, with a feeble smile and asked me to fetch a wet-cloth to wipe herself. And I automatically moved.

like an empty vessel that used to have pumpkin porridge.  



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Korean Food : New Year Culture, Rice Cake Pasta Soup at Home

When I was young, I wanted to grow quicker to be an adult, so I ate it two or even three bowls to get older. Will you eat it, if you gain one more year through it?

No or Yes?

You might not believe even the existence of it. But it exists in Korea. When you eat this food, you will get one year older. Do you want to know what food it is?


rice cake soup

 This is it. You might have seen it somewhere, or already eaten it. This food is called ‘tteok guk’ in Korean meaning rice cake pasta soup. This is the korean traditional new year food.

When do korean eat rice cake pasta soup?

We eat rice caken pasta soup twice a year; the solar new year day and lunar(chinese) new year day. The solar calendar new year is the 1st of January, most people know, while the lunar new year day is around the beginning of February. The lunar new year day changes every year as the lunar calendar changes.

Technically, we eat rice cake pasta soup on the lunar new year day, because we used to use the lunar calendar at the time we celebrated it. However, people started to eat it at the 1st of January as well, as the profound meaning of eating this soup is commemorating the new year, and then it became a tradition.  


The particular type of rice cake : Bar rice cake

We make rice cake pasta soup only with a particular type of rice cake. That is bar rice cake, called ‘Garae ddeok’ in Korean. It is long thick-strip like super-thick spaghetti with diameter of 3cm.

This bar rice cake embrace two implicit meanings.

Firstly, bar rice cake symbolizes the purity and hope for longevity. Its pure white color  signifies the new start with new clear mind. Like its long shape, we wish our long life expectancy.

Secondly, bar rice cake also implies the desire for wealth. As it comes along out from the machine, money hopefully comes ceaselessly out to eaters. On the other hand, it is sliced while cooking and served. It looks like just like a coin, that was only currency in the past. We just hope to be richer eating this money-shaped food.

The Strange Expression to Say hello at The new year.

As I mentioned on the head, you gain one year when you eat rice cake pasta soup. It leads to the unique and strange expression to say hello at the new year.

We often ask, “Have you eaten rice cake soup pasta this year?” meaning happy new year. We also ask “How many rice cake pasta soup have you eaten since born?” meaning “How old are you?”.


I am not like the child as I was, who ate two or three bowls of rice cake pasta soup. I’ve been old enough as a grown up. Yes, I think I had enough. I shouldn’t eat it anymore, but it’s so delicious that I cannot resist it.

Do you want to get older, or want to avoid eating it? I ascertain that you cannot help eating it when you look at the hot bowl with chewy rice cake in its mysterious white soup.

              Happy New Year !

                                                and... Try Rice Cake Pasta Soup This New year.

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