Heyyyyy girl heyyy. It’s been a minute, I’m very well aware. I wonder how many times I’m going to start my posts with some sort of apology & a haphazard explanation for my absence. Probably forever until the Zombie Apocalypse hits to be honest, but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that. But in case any of you need a safe haven for food, my house in California is stocked for the next 2 years for about 6 people. Shout out to my mom for being a hoarder. Why would anyone need 7 bottles of fish sauce? I don’t know, man, don’t question an Asian mother who finds a good sale. Not exactly down with the 2nd amendment though, so don’t come here thinking you’re going to find guns to defend yourselves. Plenty of great Global knives though. Should I invest in a katana? Maybe. Enough of my aside, let’s get to the point of this post. It’s Friday & I’m hanging out with my fam in California. Instead of working on things for my future, I’m editing pictures from months/years ago. When are you ever going to see my cousin’s wedding photos? I don’t know, check back in 3 years. For now, y’all can salivate over these photos of food my friends & I ate while we were in Montreal for my birthday this year! Pretty sure editing these photos just inspired me to plan another trip to Montreal next year when the Biodome is open.
I’ve had this post queued up for almost a year, but I guess I forgot to post it. Whoops. A couple of summers ago, my family & I went on a trip to Thailand & Vietnam. At the end of our trip, we volunteered with MEMO in Vietnam. We offered scholarships to children to help keep them off the streets & stay in school, raised money for open heart surgery for young children, played with orphans, & gave thousands of strangers free healthcare. It was an amazing experience. We were exhausted, always full, sweaty, itchy from being victimized by mosquitos, & of course, many of us got food poisoning. Yay.
Our trip started off with riches–5 star hotels, white cloth dining, fully functioning air conditioning in our hotel rooms, real showers, deliciously decadent buffets–to rags. There were hotels we stayed at that simply had a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor, a non-existent shower. That’s right. There weren’t showers in some of these hotels, there was simply a shower head attached to a wall next to the toilet. The contrast was an unforgettable experience. I don’t think I’ll ever forget when my MEMO roomie Katie & I were thoroughly entertained by our eclectic neon ceiling lights in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. It dawned on us as we fumbled with the normal lights with the neon ones that the hotel we were staying was the type you’d take your escort/mistress to. It could’ve been worse, but after seeing hair & stains on the bedsheets & pillows, I decided sleeping on the ground was somehow more hygienic. Don’t question my logic, it helped me sleep that night. Nevertheless, we made it out alive, sans contracting an STI too! We all experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, but I think all of us walked away humbled, yet proud of the good we did. We helped positively change people’s lives, many of whom don’t even know our names nor have any ties to us. We were just a bunch of MEMOers helping out complete strangers.
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After traveling around Thailand for a week, my family collectively grew tired of eating Thai food. I thought I loved Thai, embracing papaya salad everyday, but I think the endless buffets (thanks to the pre-booked tours) quickly bored our palates. I never tired of mango & sticky rice though, but it never really occurred to me that Thai cuisine isn’t as diverse as Vietnamese cuisine. SHOTS FIREDDDD. Jaykay. Such a first world problem, right? It wasn’t until flying into Hanoi did I truly appreciate the cuisine of my peoplez. It’s exponentially more diverse than Thai food, especially due to its influence from its colonial French past & its Chinese neighbors. We’ve got similar desserts based in coconut milk & then we have these amazing cakes & pastries thanks to the French. We have dozens of various noodle soups, while Thailand only has a handful. While most other Asian countries embrace soy sauce in nearly every dish, Thai & Viet food is similar in that both cuisines embrace fish sauce, a highly pungent & salty fermented fish sauce. It’s often mixed with sugar, water, salt, & vinegar as a dipping sauce or dressing. Fish sauce (concentrated, not mixed) has always been my mother’s secret weapon in enhancing any meal whether it was spaghetti or Banh Canh Cua. Also, MSG. She used a lot of MSG, but the point is, whenever her meals needed a major kick in umami, she pulled out a bottle of fish sauce & measured out a tablespoon of it into her dish. Never fails.
We were excited to finally get our hands on some Vietnamese food, exciting our tastebuds with new combinations of flavors & spices we grew up with. I learned that Hanoi’s goi cuon tom (aka summer rolls) is made with a much thinner sheet of rice paper & honestly, it’s more annoying to eat & make. I love summer rolls. I make them at least 3 times a month, no matter the season, because it’s so healthy, fresh, filling, & low in calories. While Hanoi’s (Northern Vietnam) cuisine is much lighter than Saigon’s (Southern Vietnam), it still has some of my personal favorite dishes: Bun Cha & Cha Ca Thang Long. See all of our eats & travel photos below!
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Cool fun fact: I was going to combine a huge travel dump of photos from Thailand & Vietnam, but decided it’s too overwhelming. Besides, I can break up my trip into 3 different posts, thereby making it seem like I’m suuUUuuper active, but I just scheduled the posts ahead of time. I didn’t realize how many food photos I actually took in Thailand.
So, I was enrolled in an Emergency Medical Services classes at Boston University for a hot minute & since the classes were so long & I have the attention span of Dory in a classroom setting, I finally ended up editing all of my photos from two summers ago (!!!! – I’m the worst) & last October’s trip to Maine. DROPPED that class – too busy with work & other shenanigans. Probably will retake it in the summer when I’m not as busy. Would be fascinating to ride in an ambulance. It’s too bad the experience won’t be anything like Sirens. That show was hilarious, RIP. Anyway, my family & I went on an amazing trip to Thailand & Vietnam for nearly a month. We vacationed first & then volunteered with MEMO to help out our peoplez. Tears were definitely shed & so many of us got food poisoning, but it was all worth it. Literally shed our blood, sweat, & tears helping the underprivileged in Vietnam. You can scroll down to see my travel photos, but otherwise, here’s a massive food photos dump featuring some of the best eats from Thailand & Vietnam!
Okay, time to shut up: IT’S SLOBBERING TIME. I can’t believe I just made a Marvel pun. What is wrong with me. Puns are the worst form of humor. Halp me.
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You can blame Josh & working at DAVIDsTEA for my pun-ny humor/dad jokes for days. I’m not proud of myself & neither are my puns. I’ve put off this post long enough, so here it is in all of its mouthwatering & wanderlust invoking (mayhaps?) glory! It’s another filler post, I know, oh well, I promise lots of recipes are coming your way inspired by my trip to Vietnam!