The food universe operates in unusual ways and I’ve learned to simply go with the flow. In October 2015, I went to Vietnam with my travel buddy and stylist Karen Shinto. My chief aim was to do a little more research about pho. I’d traveled to Vietnam many times since 2003 and on one occasion, reported a pho story for Saveur magazine. This time I was circling back to check in with the pho scene with more depth.
Flying from Phu Quoc island to Hanoi, we were seated next to a young woman who introduced herself and asked if I was from America, what we were up to in Vietnam. Amy Do had overheard my conversation with Karen. She was friendly in an unusual, refreshing way. She was in the hospitality industry and was looking to network. I liked her boldness.
Amy was an orphan raised by a foster mother and explained that since she lacked blood relatives to take care of her, she learned to be more outgoing. Her English was honed by striking up conversations with strangers. Soon we were speaking in Viet-glish. At the end of the two-hour flight, we’d exchanged cell numbers and made a date for the next day: Amy’s foster mother would show Karen and me how she made pho! (To a researcher and writer like me, that kind of invitation is gold.)