Pasta Maker Circa 1973 – Seoul to NYC
My dad moved to New York first, leaving my mom, my older brother, and me in Seoul until he settled in. A year later, my dad called and told my mom it was time to make the big move. My mother immediately went out and got the tightest perm possible, because who knew if she would be able to find a decent Korean hair salon in New York, and my grandmother immediately packed up her pasta maker (circa 1973) for her daughter, because who knew if she would be able to find fresh Korean noodles in New York. So that’s how my mom came to the States, with a Korean afro, two kids, and a pasta maker in tow.
As a child, I have fond memories of my mom using the pasta maker to make us hot steaming bowls of kalguksu (칼국수, noodle soup). Later, when my mom started working, and the free time to make noodles from scratch suddenly vanished, the pasta maker vanished also… somewhere deep into the recesses of our kitchen cupboards never to be seen again. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when childhood memories of the pasta maker resurfaced and I asked my mom for the pasta maker, that I saw it again. Fortunately, my mom being the pack rat that she is, not only saved it, but also saved the original box and instructions.
The box is pretty precious, but I can’t get enough of the instructional leaflet. It’s a complete riot and also a complete classic; all from the model’s seventies Farrah Fawcett hair (much like my mom’s after her afro finally grew out), her angry/constipated expression, and the bad type design. Above are scans of both sides; digitally preserved for all eternity. I’ll be passing/forcing the pasta maker down to my future son/daughter. Three generations to use the pasta maker is simply not enough.
As for the pasta maker, it’s found a new home in my tiny LES apartment, and I’ve been noodle crazy this entire week. Once I made kalguksu, another time jajangmyun (자장면, noodles in black bean sauce), and twice spaghetti. The spaghetti was particularly good. I still haven’t perfected the technique, but even the mistakes — the first time too long and the second too thick — have been so much better than the blue boxed stuff. You just can’t get that wonderful chewy texture with dried pasta. I’ll upload some food porn soon, but until then, please enjoy my scans. Even if you can’t read Korean, I believe the hilarity is pretty universal. By the way, on the box, the pasta maker is called “The Universal Machine” in English.