Excerpt - Some Bitter Some Sweet

“What is this neighborhood?”

“Columbus Park. It used to be Italian but now it’s primarily Vietnamese.”

“Is this where you live?”

“No, I’m down in Johnson County.” He waited a beat. “And I’m Korean.” He liked the flush to her skin as she stared at him before laughing.

The waitress appeared before she’d had a chance to look at the menu and Raija asked for another moment. When the waitress walked away she turned to Hwan, “I’m clueless. How similar to Korean food is Vietnamese and what should I be ordering for my first time?”

“The foods are only similar in that they use some of the same ingredients. Different flavors entirely. I can order for you if you’d like.”

She agreed and when the waitress returned she listened to him rattle off the names of dishes. Lidia piped in with her order asking for what sounded like fumble.

Hwan turned his attention to Lidia, “How did you know how to say hello in Korean?”

For once, her outspoken daughter seemed shy. “I like K-pop and K-drama.”

“K-pop? Is this a new drug I need to be concerned about?”

She watched Hwan try to hide his smile.

Lidia sighed in that way all teenagers do when explaining something to their parents. “Mother, K-pop is Korean pop music, lots of girl bands and K-drama is Korean TV shows and movies, kind of like soap operas. You watched one with me, remember? You thought Lee Byung Hun was hot.” Lidia’s face scrunched as she shared the last bit.

Raija glanced at Hwan and she could tell he was about to say something when the waitress returned and placed dishes and beverages on the table.

Lidia snagged a large bowl of soup and began digging in.

Hwan wanted to continue the conversation and find out what she found so attractive about this Korean actor, but took pity on her instead, slicing a sandwich in thirds and sharing with them.

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