A simple Vietnamese butternut squash soup

For some reason I’ve always enjoyed doing repetitive, mundane tasks. They provide a sense of peacefulness and contentment in seeing the results of my efforts. My mind quiets down and I get to enjoy a sense of oneness with my task.

When I was in tenth grade, my summer job was to put bra sliders into bra straps. My mother worked for a garment factory, and every day she would bring home huge bags of bra straps and bra sliders. Like a machine, I spent every single day of that summer putting sliders into straps. I didn’t get bored at all. In fact, I even found great joy in doing that. I didn’t have to think much, and I was content with the accomplishment, which was piles and piles of nice and neat straps in front of my eyes.
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Panna Cotta with Fresh Passion Fruit

 

This past week the heat was so brutal that both of us got a cold from switching back and forth too often between a cool air-conditioned room to the burning heat. But we’re ok now, and I’m back to the sauna/kitchen creating and documenting recipes with great enthusiasm! Read more

Classic Vietnamese Braised Pork

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this post.

 

Many, if not all, Vietnamese women I know who know how to cook learned from their mothers or grandmothers or both. I didn’t.

Working 12+ hours a day, often seven days a week, my mother has never had time to cook, except for traditional Tet holiday once every year. My father has always been the chef in our family. He’s not a good one though, I have to admit. Now I understand how difficult it could be to learn cooking without cookbooks, Internet, or somebody to guide you, but I was small and so I used to blame him for not feeding us very well. I used to long for the rare days when my mother had some time off to cook something for me and my little brother.

One time she made braised pork, and it was the only time she cooked that dish. It was 15 years ago but now I can still remember very clearly how that caramelized meat melted in my mouth like butter. It was one of the best things I’d ever eaten.
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