It’s been an amazing week with Asian Dumplings coming out and all. But in the midst of all the hubbub, I received two lovely emails from women who are cooking from my recipes to feed their families well. Susie reported that the beef pho (pho bo) noodle soup recipe turned out great and is keeping her two sons very happy; she doesn’t like the MSG used at pho shops so she’s making her own at home. Chicken pho noodle soup is next on Susie’s list. And, she’s tried out the Hainan chicken recipe and ratchets up the flavor by poaching the chicken in stock. Susie – you’re a home cook and mother who rocks!
And then there was this message from Kathy in Los Angeles. Her fervor and enthusiasm overwhelmed me. Multi-racial modern America comes together in Kathy’s letter in a remarkable way. She’s a Vietnamese-Jewish-American mom learning to cook at home because she wants to provide fabulous food for her family. I’m deeply touched that this site has inspired her in marvelous ways. With Kathy’s permission, I’m posting her message for you to read and react to:
The purpose of this email is to simply say thank you for vietworldkitchen! I am a 31 year-old first-generation, Vietnamese mother of two very young babies who has NEVER really cooked until about a few months ago. I always knew I could cook but I never did it as it seemed like such a hassle to cook for just two people. However, adding kids to the equation has changed a lot. It started out with me making dinner on Friday nights for Shabbat (we're Jewish).
Since there are only a handful of Jewish dishes I care to make, or actually CAN make for that matter, I decided that Shabbat was just going to be about me cooking any kind dinner for my family with of course the addition of candles, wine and challah. During these few weeks, I also realized that I NEVER get sick of eating Asian food, especially Vietnamese food. Last week we had Miso-Black-Cod and the week before Mi Tom Cua, which we jokingly call "Kosher-Special-Noodles." So here I am scouring the internet for all these recipes of things that I miss eating as a child, and lo-and-behold, your blog appeared. The sense of joy I feel right now cannot be explained. (My husband thinks I've lost it actually.) I am so excited!!!!
For example, your Da Ua [yogurt] recipe! I have the most vivid memories of scraping frozen yogurt out of recycled baby food jars as a child and the last time I had some was actually in Vietnam 11 years ago! When I ask my mom about them, she doesn't remember ever knowing how to make them–but I swear my memories are real! :) I am looking forward to making your recipes…especially since my daughter only eats VN food and my husband is such a big fan that at our wedding my dad told everyone in his speech how proud he was that his new son-in-law eats mam nem [a sludgy, funky fermented fish condiment], when even he cannot.
Hopefully I have been able to coherently convey my gratitude in this email. Vietworldkitchen has bridged the gap between my mom and myself. She is always trying to show me how to make these dishes, but it's always a little of this and a little of that and she tells me I have to "canh" [to weigh and measure] the amount of everything…but as a new cook, it's just too hard to just canh and so she ends up cooking it herself and I only learn a little more than I knew before. Thanks again!!!
Have you had similar experiences? What was it like when you first started cooking? What inspires and fuels you to cook at home? How does food shape who you are? Please share your thoughts.