yesterday my friend and classmate Hojun came to visit, with his wife Sujong and baby Elliot. i made pizza, using Janice's dough recipe (pioneered here by Scott). Sujong stood watching me make it, and asked me, "do you know koguma?"
"koguma, koguma," i said, rolling the familiar shape of the sound around and around my mind, but unable to recall the meaning.
"sweet potato," she said, remembering the english. "in korea, they make sweet potato pizzas." interesting.
in korea, as in taiwan, the sweet potato conjures up all sorts of down-home memories of poor childhoods, and has become symbolic of native authenticity and the down-to-earth. i remember a middle school student nicknamed "koguma" for the shape of his head. and like all of them, he bowed good-humoredly under this gentle linguistic abuse.