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Eric Garner, Zwarte Piet and Belgian Headlines


At first read it would seem Eric Garner and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) have nothing in common, besides the “color” of their skin. Except this week in the Belgian papers, both of them headlined.

For different reasons.

HeadlinesAs I watch and react to the aftermath of Eric Garner’s death, I feel helpless, and angry. I’m proud to be an American living in Belgium, yet I feel so detached and bewildered as to what’s going on back in the States. I know there’s not much I could be doing if I wasn’t this far away, perhaps joining a protest somewhere in Manhattan…yet, I wish I could reach out my arms and shake America, and shake it violently, maybe hard enough to break something…or put something back in its place.

I watched this video today, and it moved me. I wish I had been there. I’ve walked by that very spot thousands of times. My New York. My country. My past. While my present happens here in Belgium. What my future holds I don’t know, or where…

The emotions and rage are real for me, just as they are real for many of you.

Yet here in Belgium, the headlines basically read “More turmoil in US over unpunished cop who killed a black man…” and that’s that. There are other things going on here that take precedence…like the Zwarte Piet debate, which I wrote about once.


So in Brussels, apparently and according to above headlines, any public Zwarte Piets are foregoing the “pitch-black” black-face and opting instead to appear as if they’re just “dirtied from soot.”

This makes sense since Zwarte Piet helps Sinterklaas down the chimney and such…I’ll take that look over white people in blackface any day…


This time last year Noah couldn’t even say “Zwarte Piet” yet he did throw himself, literally, into Sinterklaas celebrations by diving into gift bags for all his gifts…



This year, not only can Noah pronounce Zwarte Piet, but he can also point him out in a crowd…

We attended a Sinterklaas event last week and Noah didn’t seem too fond of those arriving in blackface. I can’t blame him. They didn’t look dirtied from soot, but just plain scary. Noah has no aversion to black people, but the fact that this was clearly a white man with black paint on his face proved too freaky for Noah to take a proper photo.

ZwartePietI’m not going to hijack this blog with Zwarte Piet debate, but I will share the fact that Noah’s school held a Sinterklaas event on Friday and they made a decision not to don blackface…

DSC05650I was shocked. I’m sure some of the other parents were too. Some of the older children looks confused but preschoolers like Noah didn’t even notice.

I noticed. The parents noticed. The older children noticed. Awareness is happening…


Also happening was the Macarena, by some Belgian children’s band called “The Pinkies,” and Noah definitely had one of the best seats in the house as he waved his Sinterklaas flag with fervor.


Noah, standing at the bottom right of the photo…

Try as I might, I couldn’t find “The Pinkies” in a Google search. If you find anything on them please let me know. There also might or might not be video footage of my doing the Macarena along with them by the way…

DSC05643Noah even got to hang with a Pinkie.

And the next day, he awoke to a Sinterklaas themed living room full of gifts and candy hanging from doorknobs…


Festivities continued all day yesterday, spilling over to grandma’s house and auntie’s house. Today too there will be more celebration that couldn’t be fit into one day. And despite Noah’s squeals of joy and sugar rushes…

I was constantly reminded that this holiday season there are children who will be without their father. Eric Garner is gone.

It’s so fucked up. I get choked up. Tears burn in my eyes.

As a mother, a New Yorker, a woman of color…




Always dishing,


Thanksgiving in Belgium


There is no Thanksgiving in Belgium. But there is Thanksgiving in Belgium. There’s Thanksgiving in our home every year, because our son Noah is raised in a Korean-American-Belgian home. However, we didn’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving until today.

And celebrate we did…

photo-16Noah squealed with joy at all the cheesy little “Happy Thanksgiving” turkey printouts I’d hung up on the walls and doors, because at two-and-a-half, everything is exciting.

DSC05517Along with our turkey I threw in some (left to right): eggplant parm, sugarbread stuffing with sausage, sweet corn, candied yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, mac ‘n cheese and cranberry relish. All homemade, because cooking is therapeutic for me.

This has been a very rough year having to adjust to my leaving the stay-at-home-world and into the working world, in a big way, with the opening of Rice House, among other growing pains in our household. And most recently, Noah starting school off with a bang, including two stitches in his forehead, on top of all my ups and downs that come along with living as a newlywed expat in a country foreign to me. Despite this being my fifth Thanksgiving here in Belgium, I still sometimes feel like a foreigner though I’m often told I speak the language like a proper Belgian.

Our Thanksgiving table was light but full…

DSC05520Our honored guests this year from left to right: Noah’s best friend konijn (koh-nehn) rabbit, Opi and Omi


As expected, Noah was down for some Flinstones action…

photo-14And he did not disappoint…


He took his wishbone fight very seriously…


And he won! He beat his papa!

Want to know what he wished for? Here’s the full video…


After dinner, I even tried to get Noah to go potty…even read him a finger puppet book to entertain aka distract him.


Wait for it…


It was a no-go. Maybe tomorrow. For sure by this time next year…but alas…

This year is drawing to an end yet I feel years older than I did this time last year.

I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful.

Always dishing,



This Is My Sanity Blog


This is my sanity blog.

Last year, which actually feels like it was five years ago, I was blogging every day while staying at home with Noah.

This year, I’m blogging as often as I get my period. Basically.

I have less time to blog, or write for that matter, since single-handedly running a food business is taking up so much of it. During the rest of my free time I’m reliving my childhood as mommy to Noah, and holding down the sole title of wife to Davy, and making sure my bloody monthly mess arrives at the end of the cycle so I know I’m not pregnant (no offense to those trying to get pregnant).

So this is my sanity blog.

I need an hour to myself to just dump my brain and hopefully entertain you. I need this hour. All my hours are already accounted for, including activities like these…

NoahShopThat’s Noah enthusiastically charging me make-believe prices for a croissant painted along the wall of ‘t winkeltje, “the little shop.” Winkel means shop in Dutch, and if you add a je or a tje to any word, accordingly, then you magically make it little. And so this is the little shop Noah loves to play in when we’re sitting at the HEMA in the middle of Ghent. HEMA’s like a smaller and nicer Kmart, and there’s a little cafeteria-style restaurant upstairs.

I try to take Noah into the city a few times a month. Having been raised in New York myself, it’s important to me that he knows the difference between living out in the fields and pastures of Evergem, versus the energy and crowds of people and traffic in the middle of Ghent. Ghent is no New York, but…

Noah’s conquering of the streets of New York City still remains to be seen…

So last Tuesday, I met with my girlfriend Rosella to have lunch in celebration of her belated birthday. We sat eating while Noah played, very enthusiastically in ‘t winkeltje. I’d even thrown in some small change into the register for him, and handed over some ID card with a horrid photo of myself on it just so Noah could use it to slide it in the play credit card reader.


“Here’s your money mama!”


“Hello! Come to Rice House!” Noah shouted to anyone who passed by on their way out of the restaurant.

Interestingly enough, only one person stopped to play shop with Noah, in the entire two hours we were there…

I was just about done catching up with Rosella, and our meals, when I heard Noah scream.

“Mama, she took the money!”

I looked up just in time to see a five-year-old-ish little girl swipe the last of the pennies out of the play register. She turned to look at me, and in that moment I froze. I knew the little bandit probably wasn’t a bad kid, but clearly she knew what money was, by her age.

I let her run off to her parents, whose backs had been turned walking out of the restaurant, and I wanted to see what the little girl would do. I told Noah that it was okay, and that it was only money and maybe the little girl needed it. I knew it sounded ridiculous but I just wanted to see what would happen.

Well, the little girl ran up to her parents and showed them the 14 cents or so in the palm of her hand. She didn’t stuff it in her pockets and hide it from them like I thought she might. But her parents nodded their heads nonchalantly as a reply to her cries of newfound money, and that was that and they were gone. Noah said to me again that “she took the money!”  I’d thought… it if it was me, and Noah had appeared out of nowhere with a bunch of change, I’d have asked him where he got it and marched him right back to where he’d taken them from. I’d definitely become my momz. Momz did that kind of thing to me all the time when I was growing up.

So I told Noah that the little girl didn’t know that it was his money, and she thought she could just take it. It’s probably the closest thing to the truth anyway. Noah’s eyes got all beady and then got wide again. He was over it. He went back to tending his little shop.

I don’t even know if I did the right thing in letting the little girl run off with the change. Obviously it wasn’t about the loss of 14 cents. It just felt like it was up to the girl’s parents to do something at that point and when they didn’t, I just let it go. I could have stopped that little family and had some sort of teaching or learning moment, but in that moment I didn’t want Noah distraught over some dirty pieces of money. At least not yet. He’s only two-and-a-half!

There’s plenty of time for that later…

Always dishing,



The Tale of Three Croissants in Evergem


Sometimes I set mini goals for myself, stupid shit I can accomplish, so I can then reward myself. Big goals are great, but the little ones keep your happiness in check. Last week I actually accomplished one of these little goals and it turned out to be one of the best buttery breakfasts of my life, involving three croissants.

Anyone in my family tell you that I love a fresh croissant more than anyone else, dead or alive, in my family. I. Just. Love. Croissants. You’d think France would have the best ones, but Belgium’s got freaking fantastic ones, considering the two countries are connected in geography and war.


Ffter dropping Noah off at daycare last Friday, and on the way to open my place for lunch service, I managed to collect three freshly baked croissants, from the three closest places to Rice House. I wanted to taste-test them all at once and decided whose was best. So I did just that.

First, Croissy Annelies, which nobody actually calls it. Everyone calls it “de franse bakkerij” or as Noah and I call it “the French bakery.” They have a godsend of a playground, and small farm on their property, so it’s nice to be able to sit there and have coffee while Noah plays and has ice cream.

Then there’s Bakkerij Debacker which actually sounds in Dutch like “Bakery The Baker” because the kk and ck are pronounced the same in Dutch, and de is “the” and  bakker is Dutch for baker, and I could go on forever about this. But Debacker is the name of the baker who owns the bakery (bakkerij) and the whole big family is adorable, especially their youngest son who’s enthusiastic about just about everything.

And last but not least there’s Pistoletta, which is right on the square of the town center in Evergem, before I turn right to get to Rice House. Pistoletta is a very tasty sandwich shop that is also a breakfast stop and overall cozy soup bowl kinda place. The ladies run a tight ship and I admire them. And I believe one of the ladies used to work at Annelies for a very long time before jumping ship for the newly-opened Pistoletta. Scandalous.

So these three shops make up one of of my routes to get to Rice House.

Here’s a view of then (1930) and now (2010), of my view heading into the center of my town of Evergem (population of 32,000 that feels like 320 on any given day).


Heading into Evergem Dorp (Photo credit: Het Nieuwsblad Online)

On this route I’ll grab an occasional croissant from anywhere randomly.

Except last Friday when I got three:

CroissantsTestCroissants from: Left to Right – Annelies, Debacker, and Pistoletta

I know. The croissant from Annelies looks like it’s doing something dirty to the Debacker croissant. I’d wondered, while I stood in line at Annelies,  if I’d get the defective croissant when I saw it in the display case. Of course I did. It felt like the croissant was trying to punch me for eating it.

I took two bites at a time, from each croissant, left to right, comparing the texture and flakiness and the butteriness of their respective croissant layers.

The Annelies croissant was like a mouthful of butter and goodness with a light crisp shell and doughy-chewy inside. It was glorious. And the croissant from Debacker was crispy and flaky on the outside and layered forever on the inside, and butter was plenty. And Pistoletta’s croissant was super flaky and light on the inside and extra crispy on the outside, and definitely the lightest on the butter of all three croissants.

I reported back to my husband that night, and he asked me which croissant I liked best. I answered that if I was dying tomorrow and had to choose one croissant to die with, it would be…


I now have to stay away from croissants after gaining at least two pounds last Friday. Then I can reward myself with something else…

Incidentally, when I turn right at the church (the same church our Noah was baptized in this year), to get to Rice House…

This is the then (1910) and now (2010):


Leaving Evergem Dorp (Photo credit: Het Nieuwsblad Online)


Rice House stands “just down that street from ING.”

How times have changed. Croissants are forever.

Always dishing,



Ten Father’s Days Later…


My father was born in the same year the Korean War ended in 1953, but he was not born out of love. His birth wasn’t even properly reported until six years later, because there were more important things going on in Korea. Children born out of wedlock were of no concern to a broken country.

My father was conceived out of need to pay the rent. As a result, his parents never married and still knew little about each other by the time my father was born. War-torn Korea had exposed jagged edges everywhere on the surface, but crime and compassion didn’t mix well beneath the surface and on the streets. My grandmother, who was alone for most of the war with no surviving family left afterwards, had simply given up her body for survival. She was a statistic, like so many others around her, and had become pregnant as a result.

Nothing came simply for the unlucky.

My grandmother never had fantasized notions of love and support, especially after watching her family and friends die or disappear completely during the bloody war. She hardened when she discovered she was pregnant, but she chose to keep her baby. Her scowl became permanent, and she always prepared for the worst for all the days of the rest of her life.

She never wanted to have to depend on any man again, and so she continued to gamble because she was good at it. She became notorious for hustling in gambling dens, and took home enough winning pots up until the very last day of her pregnancy. My grandmother built a nest egg for my father’s impending birth.

* * *

My father was born in the hut he lived in all his days in Korea. My grandmother named him Dong Ju. Song Dong Ju. Korean people use family names first…and always. Song was my destined family name from the day my father was born.

And so my dad grew up in that tiny hut, and sometimes his father slept together in the hut with them when he managed to find his way back from the soju house down the road. Soju houses were great to drink your sorrows away in, for just pennies, even if they were the last pennies to your name. There’s never been any real trace of my dad’s father in our lives, not even in photo. My dad told me not one story about his own father, sadly.

My dad was still a baby when his father died. He was too young to know that it happened in the middle of the night in a street brawl over money. So my father shed no tears for his dead father, and actually neither did my grandmother.

* * *

In 2004, my father died. I shed many tears for him, as did everyone who ever spent more than a minute with him. It’s been 10 years since I last got to touch him, and to hear his voice. If I could have just one minute again with him, all I’d say is, “Happy Father’s Day.”

* * *

Happy Father’s Day to all.

Always dishing,


Happy One Month Anniversary to Rice House


“This will never work in Evergem.”

“Don’t set your expectations too high.”

“People in Evergem won’t be into new stuff.”

This is only some of what I was told to my face, and what was said behind my back.


One month and hundreds of pounds of rice dished later, I’ve lost two dress sizes and some blood and hair and pride. Running the first-ever Korean takeaway and grocery in Ghent, in the middle of my own town Evergem, has been unlike any drug I’ve ever taken in my life. If you’re into that kind of high…

My husband Davy and I work together in the evening on the weekends Friday through Sunday. I run Rice House alone for both lunch and dinner on Wednesdays and Thursdays plus lunch on Fridays. In Belgium when you open an eenmanszaak it means you don’t have staff. You CAN have staff, but then it defeats the purpose of being a “onemanshop,” in literal translation, and costs are very high to implement staff in the first place here in Belgium. Employees are protected ferociously in this country, and it’s not a bad thing.

So we did and do most everything ourselves from construction to design and marketing and advertising, cutting each vegetable and slicing the meat, and even scraping crud off any secondhand equipment we purchased. Rice House is the culmination of some things old, some things new, some things borrowed and some things blue. RiceHouseToGo.com is a free WordPress theme, and we just paid $20 to procure the domain name.  We cut corners where we could without compromising quality or ethics. Prices at our “competitors” are insanely high, and we are trying to show everyone that it’s possible to put in the extra work and make money without raping customers’ wallets.

I like to refer to Rice House as my eenvrouwszaak, because I am a woman. There’s no reason I can’t say proudly that I’m a “onewomanshop.” So as a proud woman I opened Rice House, as sole proprietor. I put aside some of my pride, in little things, where customers came first.

Davy has years of earlier experience in the food and beverage industry, in addition to his abilities to work a forklift like as a docker at the Port of Ghent. Davy did not leave his position, neither at the docks nor at the union, just because we opened Rice House. Again, that would defeat the purpose of being recognized as a sole proprietorship. Rice House is mine. It’s not a corporation or a business, in legal terms, but simply a money-maker in a country where entrepreneurship and family businesses are encouraged and rewarded in different ways. It’s a part of living in a socialistic country. There’s no way I could have just set up shop and opened a Korean takeaway in New York in two months time, and with no bank loan to boot.

Yet here, it happened.

So Davy didn’t leave his job, and my momz didn’t stay in Belgium in some happily ever after, and it’s now been a month since Rice House opened its doors to the public. The first weekend and week, Davy and I were a hot mess. I did more things wrong than I did right, but I never gave up. I forgot things here and there and completely fucked up other times. I made no excuses but apologized when I needed to, even to myself after cutting myself all over my hands and even burning my hairline on my fiery stove. Suzy. Suzy the stove surpassed my expectations and does still.

I have only eaten in restaurants and having never worked in one I had no idea the power of Suzy. So I ended up burning my cute little baby hairs above my forehead that first week. Nobody knew though, because I didn’t shriek or let on in any way as the stink of burnt hair rushed up my nose. I burned some sauces that week too, and started cooking like a beginner. I realize I’m hardest on myself but still…

I made a shit ton of money Week One, but I feel guilty because I was not at my best. If I could, then I’d ask everyone who visited Rice House the first week to give me a second chance. Some have already, and it’s encouraging and not taken for granted. I listen to everyone and implement changes where I can. We received feedback that the “over-rice” style of our bowls was discouraging for those who worked through their meal to find “only rice at the bottom.” And so we changed our serving style and pushed the rice all the way to one side of our bowls so that the rest of the meal could fall next to it, ensuring more perfect bites in balance.

That first week I decided to change our opening hours. I removed Tuesday dinner service from our hours so that I’d have both Monday and Tuesday as two whole days off. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made to-date.

Then the second week…

Things got a lot better, because my mother was here visiting from New York.


Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Momz landed at Brussels International Airport just a few hours earlier, and we’d not seen each other in over a year but we were together again under Rice House’s roof. She’s the tortoise to my hare, yet she happily and heartily set to work as my sous chef for the next 3 weeks. She played with Noah and walked the 15 minutes from our home, Noah-in-stroller, and gave me strength at Rice House every day.

She told me, in English, “I feeling happy when I walking in here to Rice House.” And to think, my mother tried to take her life so many years ago in grief over my father’s passing in 2004. 10 years later and she’s a grandmother and kickass kimchi maker!

So, I realized Weeks Two and Three that I’d miscalculated how much beef, chicken and shrimp I’d go through. I’d thought they’d all sell equally as well, but the first three weeks the chicken and shrimp flew off the woks and the beef didn’t. Who knew? I didn’t. I don’t know everything, and this is a rare confession. So I made adjustments, including the decision to close for lunch service on Saturdays. It was a good idea, in theory, but a total flop. We’ve since only opened in the evenings on Saturdays, and I couldn’t be happier to have Saturday mornings and afternoons with my Noah and Davy!

Alas…momz continued to be flabbergasted every day at how much work iso actually put into Rice House. She’d never seen me do anything but bounce around as a fashionable corporate banker, and she certainly didn’t think I’d be wearing an apron and doing a mountain of dishes at the end of every night in my late 30s. To say my mother proud of me would be like saying I was proud of Rice House.

It’s more than about pride.

And then while momz was still here, during Week 4, someone left this comment on the first blog I ever wrote about Rice House (quite old):

Angry Comment

I share this because I share everything, good and bad.

To say this comment didn’t bother me would be a straight-out lie. But I knew it wasn’t a regular customer and so did momz. Momz was upset too, and it angered me that it affected my mother like that. It only fueled our fire and love of rice!

I’ve since added fresh coriander to the Rice House Bowls, giving each bowl an extra kick. Just like I did cooking in the Big Brother house, if a customer has a special request then I happily oblige. Less sauce or more sauce or sauce apart, or less rice or no rice, even some no vegetables requests. Allergies to garlic or this or that, are paid special attention to. I want everyone’s vote in the end…

I’m loving what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. I love my family. I love Rice House. I love my mother, who returned to New York this past Tuesday.

Thank you all for taking this ride with me!

Always dishing,


Momz Kimchi


Before momz left to return to New York, she made one more fresh batch of kimchi for me…

And for Rice House…


We laughed. We made kimchi.



Each layer of cabbage was sprinkled with sea salt by momz loving hands, to make all the leaves go limp, before her killer family secret spices coated each leaf…



I’m a very lucky Korean girl…


Momz is currently flying over and out of Belgium.

We miss her already. I miss her already.

But her kimchi remains…and will be devoured.

Always dishing,


Noah’s Dope Doop


A little bit of what’s been going on outside of Rice House…

Because finding a balance between rice and home is most important…


The day before Noah’s big day…



Waiting for Sunday Mass to end before Noah’s Doopsel (Christening/Baptism), last Sunday, May 18th. Having my momz here was the icing on the holy water.



Noah, looking dope for his doop! How much he has grown…



In church and feeling giddy. Who would have thought?


CandleNoah started singing “Happy Birthday To You!!!” Everyone in the church laughed.




Noah’s godmother and godfather signed “The Book” and I couldn’t be happier or prouder of our choices for Noah.



Post-chuch party time and the big reveal time for Noah!


We got film. I’ll share when I have more time. Noah squealed and made all our hearts jump a beat along with his.



Time for cheese and all the fixings!


It was a beautiful day.

Always dishing,


The Pace of Belgium is Looney Tunes


At the end of the day, Rice House is hell and glory for my husband Davy and me alone. Hell, because of the actual risk and budget involved. Glory, because it’s the start of new legacy for us as a family. Davy and I want to prove that it’s possible to stumble upon an opportunity and by humble means with our own two hands, turn it into a dream manifested.


But comparing what it’s like to run a business in Belgium versus in America, would be like what Wile E. Coyote is to The Road Runner. Belgium’s infamous for its red tape and complicated structure and processes, and overall slower pace of life. It’s not that Belgians are slow in mind, but there is no instant-anything as a lifestyle, compared to the States, where almost everything service-oriented is instant or “at least” within 24-hours.

There is no Amazonin Belgium! I’ve been living without Seamless and the always-open bodegas of Manhattan, and Duane Reade and CVS and Chinatown at 4am! But my life is different now. I miss little things about my New York life, but I love what is my life now in my little town of Evergem.

Especially being from New York, I’ve slowly lowered my expectations for anyone to hurry up and help me (except that one time I had a baby but then still, it took too long to get my epidural). Put simply, one of the side effects and beauties of living in a socialistic country is that…

Nobody is in no rush to do nothing for no one.

It’s probably a good thing because it would be harder otherwise, to get a moment like this captured by my hand…


Rice House: April 18, 2014

Rice House’s exterior got a makeover yesterday! Everything could have been done “yesterday” but it wasn’t. It doesn’t have to be.

Unlike in the States, there is no rat race or aggressive sales tactics here. Your own personal deadlines are you own and so you learn to set realistic ones given your surroundings. You don’t “demand to speak to the manager!” here because it’s just not that serious. Nothing is live or die when it comes to business transactions. They’re just business transactions. Everything is completed in a slow and civilized manner. I know this now. It’s taken me almost 3 years to adjust, and I’m still not all adjusted yet.

“When do you think it will be done? “How long will it take?” “Should I call back tomorrow?”

In the States, these questions and more are answered and followed-up on. Business is done. In Belgium, all you get is shoulder shrugging and an I don’t know we’ll have to see. So you wait. You wait a lot in Belgium.

For example, if you deposit cash at an ATM at the global bank you hold an account at, then the deposit is reflected in your account between 1 and 3 business days. These are banks with presence all over the world. True instant-banking is only beginning to make it’s way over here.

There is no instant-anything. I miss it but it’s just a part of living here. But if nobody’s breaking their necks, then that’s a good thing right?

We don’t want broken necks all over the place…except in cartoons maybe.

Wile E. Coyote never actually dies so I guess that’s a good thing for Belgium. It’s a good thing for Rice House. Davy and I, and our little Noah, are proud to bring to Ghent its first Korean eatery.


And when things get tough, this is what I remind myself and Davy to stay positive and less Looney Tunes.

Always dishing,


I’d Never Do That. I Couldn’t.


I’ve always been a risk-taker. Not for others, but for myself, a risk-taker.

Anyone who happens to come along for the ride gets to feel the effects good and bad.

Although she’ll deny it damn convincingly, my mother was also a risk-taker most of her life.



She left Korea for America, to give me a better life, and together owned a fruit and vegetable store with my father. I left America for Belgium, for a new life and to start a family, and now own a Korean takeout place called Rice House. Not exactly the same, but lots of risk-taking all over the place between two generations.

Just because you own a business doesn’t mean you’re rich. In fact, it means that you’ve probably invested most of what you had in life savings plus maybe a loan from the bank, and you’re now poorer than you were before. But you own a business! It’s pretty much the coolest thing ever after winning Big Brother and marrying Davy and having Noah, and still having fans who throw me love and support every day in different ways.

The risk is great but I choose to believe in my Korean heart that more often than not, the reward will be greater.

But…and I never thought I’d say this, my American citizenship is proving burdensome. More specifically, the IRS. I don’t understand people who say it’s “so complicated tax-wise” being an American expat anywhere, regardless of the country you were born in, because it’s actually not that complicated. You’re basically fucked. Any income must be paid in your country of residence, and also kicked back to the IRS. Even when I obtain my Belgian citizenship, I’ll be required to send a check to the IRS, plus…

I’m not eligible for a loan. As an American citizen you can’t get a loan in Belgium (and other EU countries I presume but I’m NO tax expert). As a Belgian married to an American citizen, my husband Davy can no longer take out a loan in his own country of birth Belgium. Crazy right?

The thing is, Davy and I haven’t taken out any loans since we’ve been married so we never knew we were ineligible in the first place. Belgians by nature don’t live on credit, unlike most Americans, and so we’ve always lived within our means. When I did my research before moving to Belgium, I didn’t anticipate opening Rice House or taking out loans. Maybe I should have. But maybe I was too busy packing to move here and getting shit translated at the Korean Consulate, and oh well.

And…it turns out Noah, by his American citizenship, is required by law to pay taxes in both countries as well. As soon as he’s old enough to work, he’ll have to pay taxes to a country he’s never even lived in let alone worked in. I guess that’s the cost for admission? Like a grand scale American Buyers Club without the drugs?

I’ve read articles recently, stating alarming numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenships and choosing to live abroad paying taxes where they reside yet cutting ties with the IRS. I’d never do that. I couldn’t. Give up my American citizenship?!

But I can see why some Americans would…

Nevertheless, Davy and I move forward counting pennies to the euro and we’ve made it thus far without a loan from the bank. We’d applied for less than $10,000, small in the grand scheme of starting up a business, yet we were shut down because of my American citizenship. Belgium and America are the best of friends that way it seems. They shut us out like mean girls.

Our accountant recommended something called the Win-Win Loan or WinWinLening open only to Belgians. It’s a 2.5% tax credit for a friend or member of the family who’d would loan money to me and Davy. This all sounded great but Davy and I laughed because we don’t have friends or family in Belgium, with money to invest in Rice House. I can’t imagine asking anyone struggling anyway, to lend us money. But if you do know a Belgian who’s got extra disposable income, then please do tell them about Rice House.

For now, I’m just literally watching every penny going into our business without compromising quality. I figure this is all just stuff to laugh about later. Right?

Always dishing,