Saturday, March 4, 2017

Kimchi and rye bread for lunch
The Millefleur’s first longed-for paycheck had come and gone, as well as the complementary income support benefit. Those two scarcely covered the rent and most important invoices. I had absolutely no money left. It seems that the social system is built in a way that one needs the whole package. The universal health care, 75 percent reduced Navigo card and the social energy tariff were still to come. Without mentioning the social housing I was waiting for since four years now.

I used to collect the rest of the previous day’s dinner and put in in my lunch box in order to warm it up in the office. Today the lunch box was empty. We have eaten all of the cassoulet the previous evening. My daughter Laura is growing fast and helps herself three times during dinner. It was lunchtime and I it came to my mind that the other day Jee Eun Kim brought delicious homemade kimchi of which there was still some left in the office’s refrigerator. Although I like this traditional fermented side dish made of vegetables and red chili pepper flakes, even a Korean can’t eat bare kimchi for lunch, to say nothing of a Finn.

A granny selling Beuf bourguignon
I was heading to the refrigerator to eat some kimchi when I saw a white haired woman entering the store with a trolley.

-          Bonjour. I have a nice Beauf bourguignon lunch here. I just cooked it at home and I am now proposing it at ten euros the bread included. Nice deal, isn’t it? She said opening the trolley and showing one of the plastic boxes containing the portion. The store was filled with an appetizing odor. 

-          Yes indeed. I am tempted but I had my lunch already, I lied.

-          We can make it eight euros, or even seven. Look, I am retired but I can’t make it until the end of the month with the state pension, the old woman said.

-          I am sorry but I have had my lunch today. Maybe another time. Try the antique dealer or the jewelry store over there, I said pointing my finger at the neighboring stores.

I returned to the refrigerator, took a plateful of bare kimchi and a glass of tap water. I sat at my lunch table by the window. Through the window I saw the granny pulling her caddy in the antique dealer’s direction.

While enjoying my kimchi I remembered having put a big envelope in my handbag in the morning when checking the mailbox and rushing out with my scooter bike. The envelope was large. I hadn’t noticed it was my darling grandma sending news from Finland. I could feel a round shaped flat object inside. When I opened it, rye bread fell out. It was partly broken because of the long journey. It was a traditional dark sour bread with a round hole in the middle.  In the past the hole was needed because these breads were dried in a hanging wooden rod near the kitchen ceiling. 

I took a bite of it right away to beat the strong kimchi taste I still had in my mouth. I couldn’t help noticing how uncommon my lunch menu was today: kimchi, rye bread and tap water – actually many glasses of tap water.

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