Because food connects us all, Yahoo Life is serving up a heaping plateful of table talk with people who are passionate about what's on their menu in Deglazed, a series about food.
As a child, actor and model Charles Melton lived in Alaska, Germany, Kansas and South Korea. But, no matter where Melton moved, his Korean mother cooked his favorites. "My Mom [cooked] every meal," Melton, who's father worked for the U.S. military, tells Yahoo Life. These home-cooked Korean meals were one of the few constants in his life. Whether he was in Europe or the Midwest, Melton could count on dishes like kimchi and bulgogi to instantly make him feel at home.
"I always felt like I had home with food," he says, "It's a no-brainer to say my mom's meals are the best meals I ever ate."
Melton liked to watch his mother prepare meals in the kitchen. "It was a sacred process," he says. Yet, Melton didn't learn how to cook until after he left home at age 20. When he went home for the holidays he told his mom, "I just took this for granted. I just ate your food. I need to learn."
He missed his mom's cooking, and asked her to teach him how to prepare the homemade Korean specialties he loved, including a type of Korean brown bean soup called Doenjang-jjigae, tteokbokki (a spicy rice cake) and Korean barbecue.
Learning the ins and outs of Korean cooking wasn't easy because Melton's mother doesn't use cookbooks or measuring cups. "She taught me a bunch of tricks," he says. "She would ask me what does this need? Is this too spicy? Too salty?"
Eventually Melton picked up his mother's unconventional cooking techniques and can now make a great bulgogi (marinated beef) and a "decent version" of kimchi (a type of fermented vegetables).
Now that he does most of his own cooking, Melton mixes elements of Korean dishes with more traditional American foods. He makes kimchi burgers and uses a lot of sesame oil, soy sauce and red pepper. Cooking Korean and Korean-inspired food helps Melton stay connected to his mother who lives several states away. "Food connects. It creates a bridge to my mother," he says. "I'm always calling her up for recipes ... asking her, 'Do I use this? Do I use that?'"
In fact, when Melton is invited to a potluck, he usually takes kimchi. He convinces skeptical friends to try it by telling them how much he loves the side dish, explaining that, "it's good for your body."
"If you want a long lifespan you have to eat kimchi," Melton says, noting that "an appetite" is another thing he always brings to a dinner party.
The busy Riverdale actor, who's currently filming the movie May December with Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, finds himself making simple foods these days. "I love making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I get a little fancy," he says. "I butter the sides and I butter the toast and I grill it kind of like a grilled cheese."
"I eat fast food almost every day," he admits, rattling off a long list of his favorite chains. "This is disgusting," he jokes, "should I be telling you this?"
Taco Bell is at the top of the list, along with Los Angeles burger joint . But Melton also shares that, while on-set filming Riverdale, he and his fellow cast members get to enjoy real burgers and milkshakes created for Pop's, the fictional diner that's a popular meeting spot for the show's characters. The recipes are inspired by a real diner in Vancouver, where the show is filmed.
Melton travels a lot for work and play. On the road, he makes it a point to try local foods wherever he goes. Despite never having lived in Philadelphia, Melton, who played college football for Kansas State, is a lifelong Eagles fan. He's currently planning his first trip to see an Eagles game in Philadelphia, researching the best place to get one of the city's iconic cheesesteaks.
Melton also plans on tailgating before the game with his father and friends, grilling brisket and ribs in the stadium's parking lot. Melton, who spoke with Yahoo Life as part of his work promoting Captain Morgan, says he'll drink apple mules before the game. "It's fantastic. It's perfect," he says of the drink, which he makes with Captain Morgan Sliced Apple and fresh apples to give the drink a crisp, classic fall flavor.
Melton is an adventurous eater open to trying almost anything. "I love to eat," he says, adding that he has his limits. "Anything that has to do with eating intestines I'm not a big fan of."
A perfect food day for Melton would take him around the globe, starting in his mother's Kansas kitchen for a Korean breakfast of seaweed soup, rice, kimchi and eggs. Then he'd head to his home in Los Angeles to cook himself a steak. Next up, a visit to Texas to get a Whataburger before getting some ice cream, followed by a trip to Korea for some of his grandmother's soup.
The 31-year-old actor would finish the day off with a sweet treat. "I would definitely get some donuts," he says. "You can taste a good donut, you know? You can really taste the flavors. The sugar."
Curious about that apple mule? Melton shared a recipe for the drink with Yahoo Life.
Courtesy of Captain Morgan
1.5 ounces Captain Morgan Sliced Apple
4 ounces ginger beer
Lemon wedge for garnish
Pour Captain Morgan Sliced Apple and ginger beer into a tumbler glass over ice.
Garnish with lemon.
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