a bit more inspired piece
Posted January 29, 2007on:
naturally, I was inspired by what I just ate right now, ba’nh gio`, to write this piece.
Tin and I share the love for ba’nh gio`. It’s not that we crave ba’nh gio` every breathing moment of our lives, but if you let us loose in a VietNamese food-to-go place, we’d know exactly what to start grabbing. It’s something that makes me happy if I think about it, how Tin likes to eat ba’nh gio`. Whenever I get some for myself back in L.A., I’d grab some for him too. I’ve watched random Hoa Hau Ao Dai shows in the US every now and then, noticed how the question “what’s your favorite Vietnamese food?” often came up, and the answers were always sure disappointments. They were generic, these answers, with pho and bun bo hue at the top of the list, then maybe you trickle down to goi cuon or cua rang muoi. They don’t really tell you much about the person. They conjure up the image of restaurant menus.
But my brother likes banh gio, and he can call it by its name, knows what it looks like, and pick it out among the sea of food at any Vietnamese to-go place. That, makes him Vietnamese. Not a love for the faraway land he can now barely remember, not a sense of pride of his 4,000 years of history inherritance, not the fluency in the language itself, not a sense of appreciation for poetry and music… It’s just a unique preference, you know?