Rockaway Beach, July 2015
Rockaway Beach, July 2015
After taking my first bite of this homemade pho by Lily's mom, I turned to Anh and said..."that's it, I can't eat any other pho." When people say, "oh this was made with love..." yeah, I totally tasted love in this bowl of pho and also time and also mad skills. I finished the whole bowl and drank all the broth. Super deep flavors that I have never tasted in any pho I have had in NYC.
This really got me thinking about what I consider to be good and authentic. I have never been to Vietnam but definitely ate enough pho while growing up in LA. My family and I would drive to Westminster aka Little Saigon for our fill of Vietnamese food. After moving to NYC, it's rare to drive to Little Saigon when I'm visiting home. (I guess I should do that next time when I'm in LA.) When I was a kid, I didn't doubt the pho that I was eating wasn't authentic. Actually, I didn't know much about food until I moved to NYC in 2003. I went on a food journey when I first moved here, trying to find good pho. Pho that reminded me of LA and not Vietnam.
What does it mean to be authentic? Or traditional? And this isn't just about pho but almost every foods in every century, time and space, there are different variations. People grow up with different experiences and tastes which will affect the way they cook. Maybe the base is the same but with different hands mean different outcomes.
Now that I'm writing this (Hi! I didn't think about writing this. I'm more or less just letting my words spill out.), I guess I have never really searched for authenticity but I was searching for home or my life in LA. Nostalgia? Probably. Every time I eat a taco, I think about all the $1 street tacos in LA. When I eat Hainam chicken rice, I think about the version I had in LA.
This bowl of pho I had on Monday is like the true meaning of being home. It was made by someone's mom that really put care into it and maybe because I was eating in a crowded restaurant with mostly their family friends.
Hm...I guess I should've posted these photos sooner but oh well! Here you go. Back in 2012, Clay Williams and I ran around the city with Siobhan and Alex, snapping photos for their book New York a la Cart. It's a book about street food, street food culture, street food history, and the people behind the carts/trucks. That was a fun couple months. I have posted some of my favorite shots, check them out after the jump.
Photos of food trucks/carts include... - Torta Neza (He doesn't have the truck anymore but you can find him and his amazing tortas at Juan Bar in Jackson Heights) - The Arepa Lady - Eggs Travaganza - Wooly's - Policano's Italian Sausage - El Olomega - Luke's Lobster - Van Leeuwen
Current occupation: Social Media Manager for Zagat
What made you decide to get your first tattoo? I had been wanting wings on my back for at least five years - for flying, not for anything about being an angel which sometimes people say - so when I graduated college and was about to move to New York, it kind of felt like now or never.
How many tattoos do you have? Five at the moment.
Any special tattoos or ones that are more memorable? They're all special and memorable - either for who I with when I got them or what they represent to me or just the way they look. I've got the Detroit "D" because despite the negative attention and press that city gets, I'm rooting for it every day. My most recent tattoo of a whale is probably the most beautiful and gets me a lot of attention from random people and that's because Amy Shapiro, the artist, does some amazing work.
What made you decide to work in the food world? When I moved to New York I had no money so I had to find interesting ways to eat cheap. I got tips and advice on where to eat from the people I met and learned there were a TON of options and I wanted to try them all. I started a (now defunct) food blog which led to my first real venture working into the food world doing social media, marketing and events for The Mermaid Inn and Mermaid Oyster Bar, which was an awesome experience.
Sometimes I imagine, if I can travel back in time, I would change this and change that. You know? How things might turn out differently if I had been more out going in high school or had the courage to talk to that girl. Or maybe if I actually studied more in college though I was sure I didn't want to be an economist.
It's kind of like these soap bubbles, eh? Once they burst and go away, that's it. You can't bring that bubble back and all you can do is look forward to the next bubble. Wobbling through the air. No point in thinking about the past, got to look forward to the next wobbling bubble. Heck, even the Doctor can't go back into his own history.
Bubbles by Luna Saves the Day