I’ve been in need of some culinary inspiration lately. I’ve definitely fallen into a cooking rut and, like usual, Netflix has read my mind and keeps pushing the “Street Food” docuseries onto me so I’ve been eating it all up- pun intended.
The dishes they showcase look amazing. Ironically, it wasn’t the food that inspired me as much as the people cooking the food. Although I didn’t get inspired to make any new meals after the show, I did continue to crave some Thai food that I miss so much from New York. The inspiration I received came from the women on the show and their amazing work ethic.
One woman in particular had an amazing story. Before she started working at the market, Soonyun Cho felt she was naive but the market changed her. The challenges she faced gave her what she calls, "an iron face."
“It's like going into battle everyday but I'm ready.”
She talks about the Korean culture and how it isn't custom to complain about their problems or show emotions. "Whatever the trouble, I show up to cook."
She explains how when she was growing up poor she had to ration her meals among her family. She began watching her mom cook and eventually started to enjoy it. She was grateful that her mother had passed down how to cook Korean meals.
While being a stay at home mom to her two children her husband ran into debt while running his own business. She talks about debt collectors calling and threatening her family. She feared they would lose their house so she decided to go to work and started selling her food to bring in some income.
In the beginning she struggled; the other vendors bullied her and tried to intimidate her. They would leave trash at her stall and then call her names. She talked about how she would cry but couldn't let anyone see her weakness so she would hide in the fridge when she felt she was breaking.
She wanted to quit many times but then she would remember we why she was there; to save her family. Eventually, she figured that if she could cook something that she loved she could be successful. That’s when she started making her mother's knife-cut noodles which had been passed down from generations.
Soon she was able to pay off her debts and she said it was the first time she felt in charge of her life. She continued working, putting her kids through college and securing her family's future.
I could not help but feel tremendous awe and inspiration from this woman. I must’ve cried throughout this entire episode and at the end when she talked about how proud she was of herself, I beamed with pride as if she was a close friend.
If you need some motivation and inspiration, check out this series, streaming now on Netflix.
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