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My family immigrated to Canada when I was less than a year old and so my childhood is largely a convergence and at times, tension, between two very different cultures. It made for some frustrating experiences, but also a lot of funny ones. For example, Santa Claus was never a tradition in our home but I wanted so desperately to believe he existed. So on Christmas, I wrote a letter to Santa and put it out with milk and cookies, as the tradition goes. I knew he didn’t exist, but I just wanted my parents to pretend. I woke up the next morning hoping that my parents played along and left me wrapped presents and a bite in the cookie to signify that indeed, Santa stopped by. But, being the Korean parents that they are, my dad left me a letter that was clearly in his writing (though signed by Santa) telling me to listen to my parents and get good grades with a 20 dollar bill attached to the letter. At the time I was disappointed, but looking back now, it’s endearing and sweet that my parents played along in their own kind of way.

I also remember a time when I tried to overhaul our usual Korean dinners by introducing tacos to my parents. I had tried it a friend’s house a few weeks before and thought it was amazing. So when I went to the grocery store with my mom, I made her buy all the necessary items to make it: ground beef (Koreans don’t usually cook with it), tortillas, seasoning, etc. That night, I carefully read the instructions and made my mom prepare everything exactly how it was written on the box. I was excited to get to eat Western food at home but I could tell my parents didn’t share in my enthusiasm. But they indulged me and ate all the tacos, with the necessary addition of kimchi. And so whenever I have tacos, it’s a small reminder of how my parents so endearingly and awkwardly adopted foreign traditions to make me happy.


Beef Tacos
Seasoning adapted from Bill Echols on allrecipes
While this isn’t a particularly fancy or impressive meal for Father’s Day, it’s one that’s sentimental to me and I think a nice treat to have every once in awhile. You can substitute the ground beef with chicken or beans if that suits you better.

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 c. water
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Combine all the spices to make taco seasoning and set aside. In a large pan, over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef and then drain. Add about 2 1/2 tbsp. of the seasoning with 1 c. of water. Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Serve with chopped tomatoes, mixed greens (in lieu of lettuce), grated cheddar cheese, salsa and my guacamole-hummus mix (see below!).


Guacamole-hummus Mix
Instead of plain guacamole, I like to combine it with equal parts hummus. It’s not traditional or authentic by any times, but it creates a really creamy guacamole. If I don’t have time to make my own, I go with store-bought guacamole and hummus which works just fine.

1/2 c. hummus
1/2 c. guacamole

Mix in a bowl and enjoy.

Flour Tortillas
Slightly adapted from LaDonna on allrecipes

4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. lard or shortening or margarine (that’s what I used!)
1 1/2 c. hot water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix in the shortening or lard (or margarine) until the flour resembles cornmeal. Slowly add the water and mix until the dough comes together. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until it’s no longer sticky. Divide into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a well-floured rolling pin and roll out the dough balls into a thin, (relatively) round tortilla. Place into the skillet and carefully using your hands, occasionally press down on the dough and turn it in the pan until the dough is lightly toasted and bubbly. Flip and continue cooking the same way on the other side. Place the tortilla on a baking pan and let it warm in the preheated oven until ready to eat.

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