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With love and 'Chocolate'

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Oct 16, 2022 5:00 am

It’s past midway through October! Why am I always wondering about what date or time it is? Because if my husband worries about anything at all, it’s those two things. I wonder: what is he trying to do? Mark the passage of time? I reply once. Twice. Thrice. By the fourth time, I am being driven up the wall. He forgets what I said around three minutes after I say it. So I get up, find an excuse — need to go to the bathroom, need to make one more rosary, need to heat food for the next meal — because I need to leave the room just to have some much-needed peace and quiet for myself for a little while.

I don’t much like the ones that are too contemporary, set in the poshest places. Sometimes you have to watch a couple of episodes then decide, no, I don’t like this.

Today, somebody up there turned life’s pages. Now all the past is over and we are faced with the future, which means, of course, that none of us know what will happen next. In its own twisted way, I guess that’s what has me turned on to watching Korean series — or, as one of my readers texted, “k-novelas.” I wonder if that’s the right way to write it. But then, everyone else is young and I am old; please enlighten me. K-novelas give me stories that make my eyes wrap around other lives, other romances, other food, other cultural habits.

I don’t find it easy to discover a series I like. I don’t seem to like the royalty series about emperors and empresses too much for now, but I don’t know if I will like them later when I am older, because I like the ones with superstition worked into the plot — if the story is set today, in contemporary times, and the superstitions are just naturally written into the script. I don’t much like the ones that are too contemporary, set in the poshest places. Sometimes, you have to watch a couple of episodes then decide, no, I don’t like this.

A scene from Chocolate

But I enjoy very much watching Korean culture on the screen. They bow their heads out of courtesy or greeting or apology. What they are bowing for or the status of the person they are bowing to determines the depth of the bow. I am also fascinated by the ease with which their tears fall. Whether they are male or female, their eyes don’t get red. They just slowly begin to produce tears that roll freely down their cheeks. I was fascinated by this until my eyes began to produce tears that just run down my cheeks occasionally when I make rosaries. I suspect that either my eyes are dry or tired. Or maybe I’m slowly turning Korean.

Then there’s their ability to squat either on the side of a road, in a kitchen, or anywhere. They all seem to squat with ease. I know I used to squat with ease when I was a little girl playing with our labandera or washerwoman but I could never do it as an adult. And I would never do it as gracefully as they do.

The latest series I love so much it has kept me up late nights is Chocolate. It is so charming. They have everyone in there. It begins with a cheerful young boy whose father has died. He lives with his mother who owns a restaurant and is supposed to be a good chef, whom he tries to copy. One day a starving little girl walks into the back of the restaurant and he feeds her. She loves the food he serves. He tells her to return because he will make her chocolate shasha, which look like chocolate balls rolled in nuts, but she doesn’t come back for a whole year.

In the meantime, his very rich grandmother shows up together with her oldest son, his wife, and their son. It turns out the little boy’s dead father was her youngest son whom she kicked out of the house because he refused to marry a minister’s daughter, had instead fallen in love with their maid’s daughter (now the owner of the restaurant and the mother of the little boy), and married her. Grandma shows up and takes the young widow/mother and the little boy back to Seoul. That is the start of a story that has so many twists, turns, and chocolates, it is utterly delicious!

But of course, it is not that simple. Film stories are never that simple. You should watch this one. Try not to lose any sleep over it like I did. It’s 16 episodes. You’ll enjoy the Korean food and the chocolates — if not quite in the same way they did.