A couple of weeks ago, Chaffee Pham sent a request to purchase signed copies of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. She owned a copy and wanted to gift two books to her mother and aunt. (That's Chaffee and her mother above.) I don’t directly sell my work, but I do mail personalized notes as a way of “signing” their books.
After Chaffee received the notes, she sent this email:
I wanted to let you know that I received your personalized notes yesterday. Thank you so much again…..they arrived at an opportune time.
My mom made gio lua [Classic Silky Sausage] from your cookbook and invited my aunt over to try it. They both loved it! And when my aunt found out the recipe came from your book, she stole MY copy from my mom and is holding it hostage until she receives a copy for her birthday next week. She wasn't willing to wait until Christmas. 🙂
My mom is basing Easter lunch this Sunday on recipes from your book. So exciting! It's so hard to find my mom a present that she'll really love and use, am so happy your cookbook fits the bill.
I was so flattered and bowled over by the Pham family response to Into the Vietnamese Kitchen that I asked Chaffee to snap some shots. She sent them this afternoon along with this note:
I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. Here are my pics from Easter lunch with mom. [Above is Mrs. Pham and Eliza, Chaffee's sister.] She made the Banh Khuc (which we all loved, especially the pretty green color) and Bun Rieu.
My mom also made a sweet version of the Banh Khuc, but the savory ones were our favorites. She also made gio lua for us to take home, but it was frozen and not so pretty to photograph. 🙂
Oh boy, banh khuc (first 2 photos above) are a terrific northern Vietnamese dumpling made of a sticky rice dough that’s tinted green with fresh leafy greens (in the US, that’s spinach!) and filled with a rich mung bean, fried shallot, and pork filling. The white little bits on the outside are grains of sticky rice.
Bun rieu is a tangy-briny rice noodle soup traditionally made with little rice paddy crabs. There’s tomato and pungent fermented shrimp sauce (mam tom) and you eat it with squirts of lime juice and crunchy ribbons of lettuce. I just had dinner and am suddenly feeling hungry again as I type. Wow.
The banh khuc and bun rieu recipes are some of my family's favorites. (If you have the book, the recipes are on pages 256 and 215, respectively). It's so wonderful to know that other people enjoye them just as much.
And freezing that gio lua — Mrs. Pham sounds just like my mom, and perhaps yours too! Why not cook for people you love and send them home with a goodie bag too? That's literally feeding people with kindness.
A big cam on (thank you!) to having me as part of your 2011 Easter celebration!