If you asked actor and model Charles Melton what his perfect "food day" would be, he'd tell you that it starts in Kansas with a Korean breakfast from his mother's kitchen — complete with seaweed soup, rice, kimchi, and eggs — and ends in South Korea with his grandmother's soup.
Between Kansas and Korea, the 31-year-old Riverdale star's perfect food day would also include a homemade steak from his house in California, and Whataburger and ice cream from Texas.
Now, if you're wondering why all the globetrotting, the answer is relatively simple: Melton — who is white American (his father's family originally emigrated from England) and Korean (his mother immigrated to the US from Korea in 1990) — moved around a lot as a kid since his father worked for the US military. As a result, he's lived everywhere from states such as Kansas and Texas to countries like Germany and Korea.
But no matter where he lived, as Melton told Yahoo Life, his mother's Korean cooking remained a favorite staple of his diet: "My mom [cooked] every meal. I always felt like I had home with food. It's a no-brainer to say my mom's meals are the best meals I ever ate."
Because of his mother's constant cooking, kimchi, kimbap, and bulgogi made Melton feel at home wherever he lived. Growing up, he'd always watch his mother cook in their kitchen (a "sacred process," he called it). However, he didn't actually learn how to cook until he was 20.
After moving out, Melton admitted that he realized how much he missed his mom's cooking. So, when he went home for the holidays one year, he asked her to teach him how to cook, telling her, "I just took this for granted. I just ate your food. I need to learn."
Since then, Melton learned how to make his favorite Korean foods, including doenjang-jjigae, tteokbokki, and Korean barbecue.
Of course, if you've ever asked your mother or grandmother or older relative for their recipes, you might have experienced the same issue Melton did: His mom doesn't use measuring cups, so there aren't exact measurements and recipes for him to follow.
"She taught me a bunch of tricks," Melton said instead, enabling him to understand how to adjust flavors accordingly. "She would ask me, 'What does this need? Is this too spicy? Too salty?'" Thanks to his mom, he can make "great bulgogi" and a "decent version" of kimchi.
Plus, now that he knows how to make these dishes himself, Melton experiments with blending aspects of Korean and American foods. One example he gave: kimchi burgers.
As someone who is also mixed Korean, this made laugh because my mom's family — who immigrated to the US in the mid-'70s — also would make kimchi sandwiches (with Wonder Bread, though, rather than hamburger buns).