My senior year of college, when I was an RA at NYU, there was a sudden influx of Vietnamese international students in my residence hall. Our main duty as RAs is to build community, and make sure our residents feel at home in our "living and learning environment."
I started a program that I called "Taste of Home Tuesdays." I'll admit, I stole the name from another RA friend who had graduated the year before, but I revamped the program a little. Every Tuesday, I'd get together with some students and cook a dinner that represented what one of us would eat at home. Nothing fancy or trendy or complicated. Just a simple, weeknight meal from our culture. We'd choose a student to showcase their culture through a dinner for the next Tuesday.
I made a simple pork belly dish with some soup and a stir fried vegetable for our first night, showcasing Vietnam. A resident told me after that it tasted like home, and that for most of the year, she longed for food that really tasted like what she would eat in Vietnam, and not overpriced restaurant imitations. I teared up a bit, remembering how I felt the same way my first year at NYU, alone on Lunar New Year with none of the family or food I was used to eating.
I've been thinking about home a lot these past few months. I still feel like New York is more of a home to me than DC, and Chicago is in a strange in between place. But one thing that always brings me home is recreating the dishes I grew up eating for dinner. After four years living off of dining hall food, having a kitchen again has kept me connected with my mother and father through our family recipes.
I'm starting on this blog to showcase some of these family recipes as I make them. I've always loved cooking, and toyed with the idea of blogging about it. Check back every Tuesday for a new recipe and some insight into what it's like to eat like a Vietnamese-American immigrant family. You won't see any complicated recipes that take days of simmering bones here. Just simple, flavorful meals that bring you a little taste of my home.