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Into the Vietnamese Kitchen

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These are time-consuming foods to prepare, but  the results are fabulous (much better than store-bought) and the processes keep me in touch with ancient foodways.

What a beautiful comment, Andrea. It was not long ago that I made my great-grandmother's Grape Pie. Although the concord grapes no longer have seeds, my son and I slipped the skins and followed the recipe just as I learned at my great-grandmother and grandmother's knees. And, we both found comfort in doing this, and especially me who got to tell the stores, which hopefully this next generation will pass on to their children.

And, I was the lucky recipient of my great-grandmother's recipe box. The cards are yellowed and bent around the edges, written in that spidery, fountain-penned cursive, but I count it as one of my most precious posessions.

What a great recipe. How easy is it to slip the skin off those grapes? I love that concept of cooking the skins.

It's wonderful that you cherish that recipe box as a family heirloom. My mom used to make my sisters practice their penmanship by copying recipes into that orange notebook. That's why there's all this fancy script in there, comingled with my mother's regular handwritting.

Andrea


Andrea Q. Nguyen

Author, food writer, teacher

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors (Ten Speed Press, Oct. 2006)

Vietworldkitchen.com

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Great writing, Andrea, and such an interesting discussion!

I'm curious about something other than cooking: Why did the idea of opening a restaurant fail?

On a personal note, I was living in Kg. Merchang, Terengganu, on the East Coast of the Malay Peninsula, when the first boatload of Vietnamese refugees landed at the mouth of the Merchang River in 1975 and the Malaysian government, not having yet formulated a policy toward the boat people, pushed them back out to sea - a step which was vehemently condemned by our Ustadz (Islamic religion teacher) in our 5th-grade classroom the next day, to his great credit. (His argument? Muslims are obligated to give charity to all people in need, regardless of their religion.) The international community subsequently stepped in to help Malaysia cope with the wave of immigration, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees were temporarily housed in refugee camps in Malaysia. Many of them eventually received permanent refuge in the United States, Canada, Australia, and France, and you undoubtedly know some of them personally.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Andrea, I'd like to thank you for such a wonderful book. My husband is half Vietnamese, born in Thailand and moved to Orange County around the time that your family did. We browsed through the book together last night, and he was so excited to see recipes that his mother used to frequently prepare. Plus, his mother did not talk to him about Vietnam, wishing him to grow up a "typical American boy", so it was a very moving glimpse into what her life must have been like.

We can't wait to get started cooking from it!


Julie Layne

"...a good little eater."

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I'm curious about something other than cooking: Why did the idea of opening a restaurant fail?

My mother didn't open up that restaurant because (1) her collaborator and assistant, our housekeeper, decided to have her own go at life in America; and (2) there few Viet people who settled in San Clemente, CA, so there wasn't much of a customer base for her venture. She turned to another amazing skill, sewing, to help make ends meet. Along with providing tailoring and alteration services to clients who came to our house, she also took in piece work. For a few years, our after-dinner family activity was making bikinis.

On a personal note, I was living in Kg. Merchang, Terengganu, on the East Coast of the Malay Peninsula, when the first boatload of Vietnamese refugees landed at the mouth of the Merchang River in 1975 and the Malaysian government, not having yet formulated a policy toward the boat people, pushed them back out to sea - a step which was vehemently condemned by our Ustadz (Islamic religion teacher) in our 5th-grade classroom the next day, to his great credit. (His argument? Muslims are obligated to give charity to all people in need, regardless of their religion.) The international community subsequently stepped in to help Malaysia cope with the wave of immigration, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees were temporarily housed in refugee camps in Malaysia. Many of them eventually received permanent refuge in the United States, Canada, Australia, and France,

I was listening to public radio today and there was a story about the mass exodus of Iraqis from their native country into Syria and Jordan. The Syrians and Jordanians are doing their best to help these displaced people rebuild their lives, at least temporarily. I thought of my family's own refugee experience, and was suddenly flushed by an overwhelming sense of thanks for the generosity of the many people who helped us out. Your experience underscores that point.

Warmly,

Andrea


Andrea Q. Nguyen

Author, food writer, teacher

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors (Ten Speed Press, Oct. 2006)

Vietworldkitchen.com

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Andrea, I'd like to thank you for such a wonderful book.  My husband is half Vietnamese, born in Thailand and moved to Orange County around the time that your family did.  We browsed through the book together last night, and he was so excited to see recipes that his mother used to frequently prepare.  Plus, his mother did not talk to him about Vietnam, wishing him to grow up a "typical American boy", so it was a very moving glimpse into what her life must have been like.

We can't wait to get started cooking from it!

Thank you for the kind words. I love hearing how the book helps people either to discover and/or rediscover Viet flavors.

Happy cooking,

Andrea


Andrea Q. Nguyen

Author, food writer, teacher

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors (Ten Speed Press, Oct. 2006)

Vietworldkitchen.com

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Ok I just discovered this book through eG and it sounds so precious (thank you Andrea)!

I'm sure my parents would really appreciate this book too :)

I sure hope this book is readily available in the bookstores here in Australia because I really plan to buy it now.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen it around yet :(

Do any other Aussies know if I can get this without having to go go through the whole online process?


Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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