From left with stockings: Ms. Hao (seamstress), Lieu (her assistant), Ut (Ms. Hao's 16 year-old son), Thanh (Thuy's sister -- I finally know how to spell her name) and of course, Thuy.
"Taco Bar Christmas" is our concept for tonight: meat, beans, cheese, sour cream, homemade guacamole and chips, salsa, black bean salad...
The corn tortillas we buy are the only ones we know of in the city...and they are huge.
Therefore, the tacos are huge. Biggest I have ever made. And of course, the biggest they have ever eaten, since they have never seen a taco before. I make a very American version of taco - I doubt if they have ever tasted cheddar cheese or sour cream, either (there is one specialty store downtown that sells all of this). Vietnamese people rarely ever eat dairy, except for milk. They never, ever eat large portions. And they certainly have never received a stocking before...so many firsts tonight.
When I demonstrate how to build the tacos, they all ask, "Is this for just one person?"
Watching these five very petite people try to eat these huge tacos is so funny. Good thing they find it comical, too...they spend all of dinner pointing at each other and laughing. I could not have chosen a messier dinner for this dinner party. I show them where Mexico is on Google Earth, but I'm not sure they understand that it's "Mexican" food we are eating.
A turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes would have been ideal, of course, but they keep saying "Ngan lam..." -- "delicious.."
After dinner, we get their stockings off of the balcony and they open them all together.
Right before the party, Katherine buys a Billabong t-shirt for Ut's stocking at Ben Tanh Market (most likely a copy). They joy he shows upon opening it is so pure - he whips it right on over his shirt and stands up to model, it is such a great moment.
Katherine is very proud to have introduced Ut to Western Pop Culture. At one point she asks him where he goes to school. He says he doesn't. None of us push the questioning, but what could be the reason for that? He sits and diligently sews with his mother and Lieu all day, every day. He is such a sweet kid. The other night our cooking stove gas tank ran out of gas and I tried to call to replace it but couldn't communicate on the phone. I ran next door and got Ut- he came right over and called for us. He understands some English, his mother and Lieu understand none. When I needed to know how to write their names on the stockings, I asked Ut. I thought he had a dot under the "U" of his name - which would make the pronunciation very quick. I wrote it like that and he laughed and laughed, and ran to show all of the people in the shop. I have no idea how that dot changed his name, but the tick marks in Vietnamese do that. It is such a hard language!
Anyway, otherwise, we fill the stockings with chocolates (the ones my parents sent- that I kept safe from the ants all of this time in the fridge), cashews, pistachios and gum. Katherine's mom always gave them magazines in their stockings, so she buys those, too, so the stockings are quite full. Thuy, ever the generous host and guest, buys a very expensive chocolate mocha cake for dessert.
I have a special Christmas gift for Thuy and plan to give it to her on Tuesday night--it's a nice set for dipping sauces, pottery I found in a store downtown. Our plan on Tuesday is to walk downtown to see all of the lights and displays, and to eat ice cream at her favorite shop.
I think I need this week off to recover from all of the parties and to get ready for our trip, but I know all of you feel the same way, right?