I may have learned to cook from my mother but I learned to eat from my father. He adores good food and when I was growing up, we spent a lot of time together. Before my family fled Vietnam in 1975, my dad was a busy business man struggling to stay afloat in a country that was on the verge of falling apart. When Saigon fell to the communists in April 1975, we were lucky to leave by plane. My parents had to start over in America, forty-somethings with five kids in tow.
Needless to say, Dad had more time hanging with me, in between teaching ESL at the local junior high in the day and adult school in the evening. We drove around Southern California a lot in our Ford Mercury to explore, and we went fishing together too. At home, he’d tell me stories of his life in Vietnam, though I was too young to appreciate them all.
The lasting memories of our time together were frankly, all about food. Does that surprise you? Bo Gia (“Old Daddy” in Vietnamese) and I shared many foods over time and these five are particularly special: