A Food Post (Digressions in Dashes)

A moment ago I lost it—a memory of a classroom full of very young Korean children, all of whom were sitting in their little desks, clapping their hands, and chanting 이름! 이름! eerum! eerum!—name! name!, a word that sounds like my name, and which they thought was my name, Ian—though it makes no sense of any kind for a room full of children to be chanting name! name! name! in my direction—his name is Name!—and, indeed, later, while I continued to lunch with them, I pinched a strawberry between my long cool slender steel chopsticks, maneuvered it to my lips, much to their amusement, as I was there primarily as American amusement ambassador—am I an American anymore? when does the citizenship statute of limitations expire? at what point do I become le citoyen du monde? simple human being? earthling?—and they began gasping and clutching their faces as I pushed the strawberry closer to my yawning gorge, because there are certain things you must always always do when you eat in Korea, a state that practices gastronomic tyranny, and one thing you must always do is never eat the green leaves of the wild strawberry, which I did, shutting my lips around the fruit and in so doing causing a chorus of shrill shrieks to erupt and fill the classroom—but they soon dissipated and things went on as usual—I harangue them by positioning my steel lunch tray incorrectly, they tell me to move it, and I do so incorrectly, frustrating them further—but it also bothers the teachers—one of whom politely but forcefully adjusted it for me—just today I caused a grandmotherly type to recoil in horror as she saw that I had put the kimchi in the wrong place—you’d have thought it was the severed head of Kim Yuna I was poking (with my chopsticks), and not pickled cabbage, remember—a memory brightened to life.

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