Korean cooking, my mother and me

Growing up in rural England, Rob Allison was repeatedly told he didn’t fit in. Time in the kitchen with his mum – eating kimchi, bulgogi, pickled daikon – helped him understand his roots and her life

As with everybody, my introduction to food arrived inescapably from my mum; down the umbilical cord came the remnants of kimchi and instant noodles. They were the foods she craved during her pregnancy, the foods she would eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, elevenses, midnight feasts and any other meal she could invent in between. I am certain those flavours, bound with the dopamine they helped encourage, blended together with the security of the womb to create a feeling; a first memory. To this day, noodles and kimchi are my go-to comfort meal.

My mum is Korean and my dad English. They met while my dad worked on a nuclear power station just outside Busan. He was an engineer who travelled the world: a few years, countries and power stations later my little nuclear family arrived in England.

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