It’s been a while since has a story made me feel so melancholy. The main character, Madang, moves to the countryside with his partner and child and wants to offer his family all the best: a loving home, vegetables from his own garden, fresh air. However, he is distracted from his new life by the deteriorating condition of his parents, from whom he wanted to escape at all costs, his ailing mother and his constantly drunk father.
On one hand, Madang does not want his parents to destroy his adulthood. On the other, he feels immense guilt that he can’t afford to find them an apartment that isn’t in the basement of an old dank building. He copes with this dillema through food – remembering the delicacies his mother cooked before his abusive father came home and trying to recreate those flavors for his family. The tastes and smells that remind him of those moments allow him to reconcile with the harm he suffered as a child.
I spent a few slow hours with a cup of tea with Umma’s Table, and then some moments thinking about the power of food associations. Don’t read thise on empty stomach, because the descriptions of making kimchi by the whole family caused a huge craving for Korean food!