Food at Home

Soo Koo talks about family, global citizenship and the creative power of food

Soo Koo serves as the Deputy Director for Maryland Governor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Originally from South Korea, Soo came to the United States in 2010 to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She comes from a family where women cook exquisite meals with vegetables grown in their private gardens, but Soo had to adjust her palate during the first few years in America. In 2010, there were not many authentic Korean restaurants or grocery stores in downtown D.C. but according to Soo; “that was beginning of my life in the United States, so I really pushed myself to change myself, to adjust myself to assimilate.”

Soo and I spoke during the month of September, which marks the Mid-Autumn Festival for the Asian community. This 4-5-day festival is scheduled according to the lunar calendar and therefore, falls on a different date each year on the Gregorian calendar. In Soo’s native South Korea, the Mid-Autumn Festival is marked by celebratory foods, school holidays and family time. Pan-fried zucchini takes the center stage of South Korean Mid-Autumn Festival, while other Asian cultures such as, Chinese or Vietnamese celebrate the festival with different traditional foods. It is also a time to pay homage to the dead. According to Soo, “Sometimes with this zucchini dish, we visit the graves of our ancestors and host a ceremony over there.” 

Soo has vivid memories of waking up on the mornings of Mid-Autumn Festival. During this time of the year, she would get up to the sound of splattering oil as zucchini is being fried and its rich aroma wafting through the air. As Soo made home in the United States, it was important for her to bring the tastes of her original home to the adopted homeland. She takes me on a South Korean culinary journey with her, as she prepares various versions of fried zucchini with chef-like expertise. I invite you to check out the video and try creating zucchini dishes in South Korean style. 

“I love cooking, not only Korean food but American, Italian, French, whatever, and what I kind of like to do at home is to mix them together. The reason why I like cooking is because there is a really huge room for creation,” said Soo. She believes that technology and development of media channels has made us “borderless.” “The whole world has a lot more channels to connect with each other,” she said. 

Food at Home is produced by Saima Adil Sitwat.

Funding provided by Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).

Please join us on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Mera Kitchen Collective, for an evening of food and food stories. Tickets available at:

Published by Saima Adil Sitwat

Writer, Speaker, Educator

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