I’m stressed and exhausted, all my chronic sleep issues back. I get home late as usual and have more work to do because such is life, the hustle never ends, blah blah blah — and I’m in a mood from my day job, so I impulsively decide to make and eat chapaguri for dinner.
Chapaguri is one packet of Neoguri and one packet of Chapaghetti made together. That means it’s a double serving of food, but I’m in such a mood I make it and eat it all with a side of danmuji. I play Friends in the background, and it’s such a problematic, white, homophobic, fatphobic, sexist show, but it’s also got the fortune to be so infused with nostalgia that it’s also comforting while being discomfiting, oddly perfect for these nights I’m feeling brain-dead and in a foul mood. It’s perfect background noise and requires negative brainpower.
Later that night, I text you, omg don’t ever let me eat a whole thing of chapaguri by myself ever again.
I’m only one person, you text back. Last time you made us chapaguri, you were annoyed because there wasn’t enough for the both of us, and I’m supposed to stop you from eating it all by yourself?!
shut your face.
Chapaguri was popularized by a hugely popular Korean variety show called Dad, Where Are We Going? that aired in 2014. Part of a national initiative in Korea to deepen the role of fathers in their families, the show took five celebrity dads and sent them on short trips with their children — just them, no mothers, no nannies, no assistants. The children were young (the oldest kid was ten), and the dads had to handle everything, feeding them, bathing them, putting them to sleep, waking them up, dressing them, etcetera. There were challenges every episode, like sending the kids out to get ingredients for dinner or trying to get the best available room for the night, and, luckily, it was a hilarious show because the dads and kids had personality and character in spades.
On one trip, they go camping, and the dads are each cooking something for dinner. All of the dads are stressing, trying to cook something delicious that the kids will like, all except one dad who casually roams around, peeking in on everyone. The other dads scoff at him, thinking he’s just setting himself up for failure, he’s bluffing, what could he possibly whip up so quickly that could be such a smashing success?
Chapaguri, it turns out. It takes less than ten minutes to make, and his dish turns out to be the kids’ favorite, and viewers and everyone start making it at home, too.