When my mom came to America in 1975, she faced challenges like starting a new career, negotiating a foreign society, and raising five kids with my dad. She also wanted to feed herself and our family good food. On the trip from Vietnam, she packed a small orange notebook of hand-written recipes of foods that she thought she’d need an assist with recreating in her new home.
I just realized this week that pho was not one of recipes in her orange notebook of domesticity. She knew how to make it by heart. However, translating the pho recipe from Vietnam to America wasn’t easy, and she often consulted with friends on the weekends, when long distance phone rates were cheaper. (If you’re old enough, you recall saving money by dialing on weekends and in the late evenings.) Mom’s Vietnamese-American community of home cooks shared a lot of tips and tricks. It’s hard to be Viet without pho in your life.