For the Servant-less Vietnamese-American Cook
As a poor, busy college student raised on the palette of the more refined and subtle tastes of the beautiful fusion of Chinese and French, I knew I could not settle for Big Macs and Michelina’s for every meal everyday. I began to crave the flavors of tangy tuong, sweet nuoc mam and the wafting smells of anise from a simmering pot of pho. Solution: Cook!
Not so easy. Unfortunately as an angst and dramatic teenager, I preferred myspace, AIM and my cellphone to helping my grandma in the kitchen. Now with the fear of never being able to learn to cook the food I grew up with and my grandma growing old, I have a newfound will to learn. Another motivation? My grandma, a restaurant owner herself in Vietnam, has absolutely no written recipes. All her hundreds of recipes are stored in her head. So the project begins.
And as much as I love to eat and cook, I love to share, too. I try to translate my grandma’s cooking into easy to follow step-by-step cooking, so even culinary drop outs like me can experience create some delicious Vietnamese classics. So I share to from my family’s table to yours, all our recipes for the everyday Vietnamese cook.
I am NOT a professional cook in any way. I am merely a 23 year old food lover and a lover of all things food. I eat. I cook. I bake. I watch. I yelp. I drink coffee and tea religiously and have a profound weakness for carbs and sugar (a deadly combination). I did not like to cook prior to starting this blog – a lot of grudging chopping and cursing burnt fingers. I did, however, love to bake. It was therapeutic, like mixing strange chemicals in a lab and poof! out comes a beautiful product.
However, cooking has started to grow on me as I see the effect it can – food brings people together. There is something special in sharing a pot of pho with others – a feeling of happiness and closeness hard to describe. My grandma told me once that food is life – it brings us health, family, friends, home and culture. It can entice all our senses – taste of spicy and sweet nuoc mam, the sight of a sizzling banh xeo, hear the crunch of cha gio, feel the fluffiness of a warm banh bao and smell the aroma of anise. And it can inspire emotions, feelings and ideas. It is probably the reason food is so connected to special events, celebrations and even lament. My grandma was right. Food is life.