Join Barrington author Mai Donohue of Crossing the Bamboo Bridge: Memoirs of a Bad Luck Girl for a special Vietnamese Food Demo.
Here Mai describes how food played a role in her life and discusses what she will be cooking on May 25.
"Cooking has been essential to me since my early childhood in the highlands of Vietnam during Ho Chi Minh’s war against the French. As a child, I was always hungry. My family could only eat what Ho Chi Minh’s soldiers would allow us. They took over our house and gave us only scraps to eat. When I was five and still too small to work in the fields, my mother told me I had to take care of myself and my nieces and nephews. I learned how to cook simple meals using salt, water, a little rice, and a lot of sweet potato chips. But, each year, on the death anniversaries of my ancestors, we had to care for our ancestors’ altar and prepare a feast. "
"Many years have passed since those anniversary feasts but I still remember the smell of meats marinated with fresh-picked ginger, lemon grass, curry, and fish sauce, all dripping on hot charcoal. I remember the breezes that carried the barbecue smoke that spread throughout the hamlet. If I closed my eyes I could see tray after tray of small dishes of prepared food and sweet rice, all displayed before the ancestor’s altar. I could see soup bowls set alongside the table and huge toasted rice crackers covering green papaya salad."
"When I met my husband Brian, a young American Naval Officer, I cooked my way to his heart. But when we came to America I thought Vietnamese food was only for the poor. When I did cook Vietnamese food I would close all my windows and doors, hoping no one would find out. Fortunately, my food freed me from my shame. Just as in the Vietnam countryside, the wonderful aromas spread throughout the neighborhood. Neighbors came to my house and knocked on my door, asking me to teach them how to cook Vietnamese. So I began to invite friends, neighbors, and even strangers to my kitchen table."
"The demonstration will be how to make Vietnamese Chicken Salad. I will bring samples of Vietnamese Banh Mi, and Cha Gio for everyone to sample."
Free and open to all. Register below to reserve your space.