I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that this is supposed to be a blog that focuses on food, and that I haven't posted about food (specifically) in ten posts. You're thinking that my loyalty has shifted, too, right along with my shifty neighborhood.
Well, dresses and drama have me distracted lately, I admit, but IT is still food. Here you go:
My mother, "Mr. 5", or just plain Nam - whatever he goes by for you at this point - proved his food sixth sense once again today.
When I emerge from school, I am overly tired and starving. It rained yesterday - the first rain since early November (it's not supposed to rain at all until mid-March) and the market seemed in a bit of disarray this morning. I couldn't collect my normal four daily meals (four daily meals before 3:00). And the 6th grade is putting on a play Friday (students - another topic my mom feels is lacking in my blog lately) and one side-effect of this is that they have been extremely high maintenance (so I want to leave them at school and not talk about them some more, mom (Carol)).
Rarely do I come home right after school, but when I do, Nam knows I like to check the noodle/ground pork BBQ/deep fried spring roll lady, since she closes between 3 and 4. Sometimes I get lucky and get what is left. He points down that street when we near the neighbhorhood and I give him a definite "yes."
But, oh no, we turn down the alley and she gives the Vietnamese negative...the hand up, twisting back and forth. My heart sinks. But you know what my mom (Nam) does? Without even checking with me (in the past we have just gone home in defeat), he gives the "onward" motion with his whole arm, and swings his bike around in one movement, like, "we will move forward and find and conquer." I am completely with him on this mission; it's the most alive I've felt all day. We merge back onto the main street, drive a few blocks and turn down an alley. However, the Vietnamese negative motion is duplicated by another woman presiding over a duplicate stand.
Nam doesn't even stop...he will not be deterred. He points to himself and says, "My home." We drive along the river for a few blocks, and then down a very very narrow alley. I recognize this alley from when we did the first family Meet & Greet back in September, but that time it was 11:00 pm and it looks very different in the light. I see another noodle/ground pork BBQ stand with four women gathered around it. They are still grilling, and there are about 15 uncooked skewers left. Nam, as usual, negotiates the food transaction. My neighborhood is a Vietnamese neighborhood, but Nam's village, it is a Vietnamese Village. These women look at Nam like he has retrieved me from the moon, and of course Nam enjoys the attention.
While they put my order on the grill, Nam walks me one more block to his house. His wife and daughter are both there, and I sit down to "visit" with them. But before I know it, Nam says it's time to go collect the food. As we depart, the four women wave and yell all of the English words they know at me, "See you again!" "One, two, three, four!" "Goodbye, hello!" and they laugh and laugh... and we are back at the castle within minutes. Search and destroy...that is what my food driver can do. He is the best.
In the picture: I have transferred the food to a bowl and have taken it to the roof. This dish is meant to be prepared in layers and then mixed up to eat: lettuce/basil mixture on the bottom, rice noodles over the greens, peanuts over the noodles and BBQ ground pork skewers - and I cannot even decipher what yummy sweetness they mix the pork with - on top. Cover it all with the fish sauce mixture, and then destroy.
See, food, it is about you, still.
Sweet, sour, salty, spicy, crunchy food, I should add.