Here is my interview with Mere Marshall and the photos of Korean dishes that she made.
Jamie Frater introduced her to Korean food. She has always loved cooking but Korean food was something she had never cooked, so Jamie helped her by mailing some ingredients to her house.
I was impressed with her interesting story, her positive attitude, and her genuine love for cooking.
What is your name and where do you live?
My name is Mere Takoko Marshall; but Mere or Marie is what I’m usually called. I live by Lake Rotorua on the outskirts of Rotorua city in the North Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand.
What do you do and how many family members do you have?
“The baby is my mokopuna- granddaughter Abigail. She is now 3.”
I write. I’m working on Greek myths currently in collaboration with Martin Tissink, my artist husband. There is only Martin and I at home these days. Oh, and three cats. However together we have a large extended family all living fairly nearby and we get together often, especially to share a meal.
I am a person who has been a keen home cook virtually from childhood. My first favorite cook and teacher in the kitchen was my grandmother; my father’s mother – Lillian. She cooked for her big family and for the hungry workmen who came to the meat factory canteen where she worked until she was 70. Then Lillian took a trip around the world.
I have worked with people with disabilities; tutored their teachers; been a community art worker and trainer, community facilitator and latterly I have had a naturopathic practice.
Five years ago a long standing condition I have had since childhood caused me to become an oxygen device user. At that time my specialist informed me that my life expectancy would be significantly less than for others. This brought me to a halt for a while! I felt very sorry for myself and disappointed that I had failed to stall the disease in spite of my efforts through natural remedies, nutrition and physical activity. I immediately went out and bought myself some very expensive lipstick and perfume.
After a period I realized that I had a choice to make – I could stay sad focusing on what I could not do, or I could concentrate on what I could do. I chose the latter. Throughout my life I have always read and written prose and poetry between the reports, essays and proposals that I was required to do. And there has always been cooking. My diagnosis and prognosis is not something I celebrate but I am grateful for the prompt it has given me to do what I love with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. I write full-time now and cook more than ever! I have been particularly fortunate in having the support of my husband and sister and close friends.
How often do you cook Korean food following my recipes?
What are your favorite Korean dishes? Choose 3, please!
It’s hard to choose only 3 favourite Maangchi recipes -actually impossible! But I’ll try to keep the number down.
 Maangchi’s kimchi Jigae – kimchi pancake- in fact all the kimchi recipes!!
 Bibimbap -really like the kosari (fern brake) in this dish but love it all.
[3a] Soondubu jjigae – I like this as much if not more even than bibimbap. Nice and spicy!!
 Jjinppang mandu – Steamed pork buns: everyone enjoys these. They are fun to make too although I am not very expert yet.
 Maangchi’s side-dishes – I make one or two most days even if we don’t have a Korean main dish. Doljaban muchim (seasoned seaweed); sigeumchi namul (spinach side dish); muwoo namul (cooked radish side dish, and myulchi bokkeum (stir fried anchovies side dish). I thought making side dishes would be too much bother to do regularly. I find instead they are often quick to prepare and any effort is more than rewarded by their fresh delicious taste.
Japchae (stir-fried starch noodles with vegetables and meat)
What’s your best Korean dish, the one that everybody?
I have to say the dish I am most complimented on is yangnyeom tongdak (seasoned fried chicken). I have made it for a celebratory lunch with family and friends; for my daughter-in law’s birthday, for friends get together, and for my son and family when visiting.
Last time I made it two people asked for the recipe. It is so crunchy and the sauce hot and sweet but I have to keep the sauce to the side for some family members who don’t enjoy the hotness. They still enjoy the crunchiness though.