About four years ago I had my hat handed to me by a reader for implying that kimchi—specifically the common Napa cabbage variety—is cheap and easy to make. That’s wrong, of course, particularly with that kind, because you have to make sure the salt, ginger, garlic, red pepper, salted shrimp, and whatever else you’re throwing in there is uniformly distributed among the leaves of the tightly packed baekchu if you expect it to be properly seasoned and fermented. Pain in the 항문.

I should have known better. Each year around this time my mother in law bequeaths me a year’s supply of her homemade, straight-from-the-garden stuff (which invariably asphyxiates whatever unsuspecting TSA drone has the misfortune of inspecting the suspicious-looking amorphous mass in my bag on the day I fly home). The baekchu kimchi she makes in huge quantities requires a multiday process, usually involving her pals, and I’m never around to witness it or otherwise take part. Besides, “Not even Korean man make kimchi,” she’ll joke.