A birthday ring I love, from Matty, thanks Laura for pointing him in the right direction...
The picture does not do it justiceMy friend Han is from Vietnam and she has quite a life story, although I don't know much of it. What I do know is that she is a fierce cook. And that whole French influence on Vietnamese cooking is evident even in the snacks she brings for her son's preschool. One memorable snack involved tender, flaky and round, apple-shaped pastries (complete with clove "stems") filled with the most delectable homemade applesauce, delicately spiced and thickened with agar agar. Delicious.
For my birthday, Han made me the most scrumptious bread pudding. Perfectly sweet, eggy, soft carb-rich pudding, redolent with coconut milk, coconut shavings and bananas. Han is so meticulous, the bananas could not have been sliced any thiner and she fanned them out on the surface of the pudding beautifully.
I have asked her for the recipe and am hoping to get it but I think I may just have to get a lesson...
FOOD IS LOVE
And then yesterday as I was sitting attempting to read a novel while my boys exercised their soccer obsession, the two Ahmeds, Rasha and my friend and neighbor Ece and I all spoke about food. Not all at once, but over the course of a couple hours. Ahmed and Ahmed and Rasha are kids and they just happen to very frequently be hanging around my stoop. And I love talking to them about what they like to eat, especially since what they eat is so different from what I eat. Although I try to point out similarities it's tricky because I have found that my Palestinian friends pronunciations of Middle Eastern dishes is much closer to the Lebanese pronunciation
(Lebanese cuisine being the source of much of my experience with Middle Eastern food thanks to Matty's family) than my Egyptian friends pronunciations, which makes sense. And then my neighbor Ece, who hails from Turkey was eating a sandwich that looked interesting, so as I was congratulating her for getting into the Bilingual/ Multicultural Ed. program, (I helped her edit her essay, which was very interesting) I asked her about Turkish food. She and her husband are working on a documentary of sorts about Turkish food and memories...Oh, and her sandwich was filled with feta, parsley and walnuts.
I realized for the hundredth time last night, how much I love talking and learning about food. And I thought to myself that I would love to document this. How wonderful it would be to write a book about the families living here and how/what they eat. How would I do it? What would it be like? Interviews, photographs recipes, potlucks, memories, maps... Any ideas?
Post Scrip- This post, after a bit of espresso, has brought to mind two things...1. How did Han, who doesn't know me that terribly well (mostly due to language difficulties), know that bread pudding would be a perfect gift for me...Am I that transparent, yes, of course I am.
And 2. I am reminded of one of the elderly Italian men who followed me around Florence one day and finally caught up with me to tell me that he thought I was " Beautiful, not so skinny like most Italian women. YOU LOOK LIKE YOU EAT PASTA." Thanks, OLD Italian man (the young ones were never interested in me. Just my skinny, long haired, stylish and GORGEOUS friend Brooke), just what I needed to hear after gaining 5 pounds in a week and dealing with a major break-up.