Feature Friday: Mira Park
The youngest of 6 sisters, Mira was born and brought up in the town of Haenam, South Korea; famous across the country for its food. Mira was taught how to cook in a family setting, and was also brought up with a love of fresh ingredients – both from her family's property, and from the nearby sea.
Mira has been living in Krakow for over 7 years, and has even created her own small garden on her terrace in Salwator where she grows vegetables and herbs essential to create genuine Korean food. She loves cooking and sharing her food and culture with others. Join her for a genuine Korean experience in Krakow, Poland!
What does food mean to you?
Food is my pleasure and joy in life.
How did you learn to cook? Was cooking always a part of your life?
I never learnt cooking professionally. I grew up watching my mother and five sisters cook - the delight of cooking came naturally to me. My 'teachers' were these very people, and cooking has since been a huge part of my life.
What do you like the most about hosting?
I'm always excited by the fact that I can meet new people every meal, and watching them enjoy my meal makes me feel warm as well.
A favourite memory from hosting an Eataway meal?
There's one unforgettable meal I hosted. It was a family meeting between an international (Serbian and Korean) couple, where their families met each other for the first time. The two didn't have their parents' full support yet, so the atmosphere for the first twenty minutes or so was pretty tense and awkward, but they got to know each other better course after course. It was great to see the two sides getting to discover the other's culture and understanding each other.
What is one ingredient you always have in your house?
Rice. It's an essential ingredient in almost all Korean meals, even more required than potatoes, or pasta, for example, in western cuisine.
What is your family's favourite thing you cook for them?
It's a type of pork stew, boiled for over 2 hours. It's served still boiling in a large pot.
What is something interesting about your country's food culture?
One unique thing about Korean food culture is the abundance of side dishes. Sometimes there is only a few main dishes, but most meals have at least 5 to 12 side dishes, not including rice and soup. This way, you can get all the essential nutrients from meat, fish, and vegetables. A long time ago, you could even tell someone's social class based on the number of side dishes in their meal.
If you could invite 3 people in the universe to one of your meals, who would you choose?
The first would be Kim Jong Un of North Korea. I'd love for his heart to become warmer after eating my food, because I prepare all my meals with love and effort. I don't exactly know who the other 2 would be, but I'd love to invite all the world leaders and politicians for a giant meal and negotiate world peace with plenty of love, or something.
The funniest or most interesting thing that has happened while you have been hosting an Eataway meal?
There's been plenty of interesting stories, but something I'll never forget for a lifetime was my first ever Eataway dinner. I was really nervous to not make a mistake, but guess what, I did just that. The guests wanted more "Sujungwa", a traditional Korean cinnamon punch so I brought them a new bottle - but their reaction to this one was quite different to the first. They all told me it tasted... different. I was absolutely sure it was the same drink, but then I realised.
It was red onion juice.
Their colours were identical, but their flavours certainly weren't. I was in a panic because it was my first meal and mistake, but the guests brushed it off with a good laugh. From then, I've always been careful about serving my guests onion juice.
Who is your favorite Eataway cook to visit on nights you're not cooking?
What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I love watching Korean cooking shows. I get lots of ideas from them and also get rid of my stress of missing Korean food.
What is your cooking style like? Do you listen to music, plan ahead, make a mess, etc…
I prefer planning ahead. I absolutely need to make plans for everything to come. I always prepare my vegetables the night before, to get perfectly ready for the upcoming meal. This is the only way I can feel comfortable with cooking.
What do you do other than cook for Eataway? (Occupation, family, etc..)
I take care of my various plants, flowers, and... my two sons.
What is your favorite food?
I love seafood. Like, I'll eat anything that comes from the water.
How did you learn about Eataway?
I saw an online ad, was interested, and booked for a meal. I met Marta there, then the magic started. I'll never regret going to that meal.
What does Eataway mean to you?
Eataway is like my second life to me. Meeting newcomers every week and preparing meals for them makes me hard-working and feel fulfilled.
What would you tell a potential cook that is nervous about hosting a meal?
Just do it.
Seriously, just go for it - you have nothing to lose. It's been a really fun ride for me the past half a year, and I don't regret anything - if you have any doubts, then just give it a go - I guarantee you they'll fly right off.
Photo By: QAYA Photography