The Future of Travel

Sure, I know it is easier said than done to travel back to your homeland. After all, my visit in 2008 was my parent’s first time back since they left Vietnam. And my grandparents haven’t even been back since they left. Why? Well, it is definitely a financial burden, there are a lot of emotions involved, and the means of travel is long and relatively painful. Painful in a sense that it take almost a day to reach the destination and sitting for a long amount of time is extremely unappealing. At least that is why my grandparents have not been back. 

If this is a reason that is stopping people from visiting their homeland, will future generations eventually lose touch with their culture?

This article seems to cover the issues that I have raised

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/fast-company-staff/fast-company-blog/future-travel

The future will bring more luxury to those traveling long distances so the issue of discomfort will be eliminated. Hopefully these new innovations will bring people closer to their culture as people face less challenges, however, there can always be new issues in the future that raise more complications. As for now, we can look forward to the new means of travel that will make visiting new and exciting places less of a hassle.

Pictures from My Last Visit

Here are many pictures from my last visit in the order of the cities that I visited:

Phu Quoc (First Row)

Saigon (Second and Third Rows)

Ha Thinh (Fourth Row)

There Really is No Place Like Home

My appreciation for my culture parallels my appreciation for a home made Vietnamese meal. Everyone always raved about my mom’s Vietnamese cooking, as for me, I never really cared for it. That changed when I went to college. I think that the one thing that I look forward to the most when I go back to my hometown is my mom’s Pho. Pho is the most popular Vietnamese dish and it is a chicken noodle soup either served with chicken or beef. Nowadays they serve it with all sorts of meat. It also consists of rice noodles and is garnished with green onions. Its simple, light and tasty!

Recipe:

THE BROTH
2 onions, halved
4″ nub of ginger, halved lengthwise
5-6 lbs of beef bones
6 quarts of water
1 package of Pho Spices [1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbl coriander seeds, 1 tbl fennel seeds, 5 star anise, 1 cardamom pod, 6 whole cloves – place in mesh bag]
1 1/2 tbl salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 inch chunk of yellow rock sugar (about 1 oz) 

THE BOWL
2 lbs rice noodles (dried or fresh)
cooked beef from the broth
1/2 lb flank, london broil, sirloin or eye of round, sliced as thin as possible.

THE GARNISH

big handful of each: mint, cilantro, basil
2 limes, cut into wedges
2-3 chili peppers, sliced
2 big handfuls of bean sprouts
Hoisin sauce
Cock sauce (Sriracha)

Char: Turn your broiler on high and move rack to the highest spot. Place ginger and onions on baking sheet. Brush just a bit of cooking oil on the cut side of each. Broil on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue to char. This should take a total of 10-15 minutes.

Parboil the bones: Fill large pot (12-qt capacity) with cool water. Boil water, and then add the bones, keeping the heat on high. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes and drain

Boil broth: Add ginger, onion, pho spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef meat and set aside (you’ll be eating this meat later in the bowls) Continue simmering for another 1 1/2 hours. Strain broth and return the broth to the pot. Taste broth and adjust seasoning – if you want a little more flavor, add a few dashes more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small nugget of rock sugar.

Prepare noodles & meat: Slice your flank/london broil/sirloin as thin as possible – try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing to make it easier. Remember the cooked beef meat that was part of your broth? Cut or shred the meat and set aside. Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Your guests will “assemble” their own bowls. Follow the directions on your package of noodles- I prefer the thin and fresh kind. For some fresh rice noodles, just a quick 5 second blanch in hot water is all that’s needed. 

Ladling: Bring your broth back to a boil. Line up your soup bowls next to the stove. Fill each bowl with rice noodles, shredded cooked beef and raw meat slices. As soon as the broth comes back to a boil, ladle into each bowl. the hot broth will cook your raw beef slices. Serve immediately. Guests can garnish their own bowls as they wish.

Me, Myself & My Culture

So, I am going to tell you a little bit about myself…I am a first generation, 100% Vietnamese (well there is a very small percentage of me that is French), oldest daughter in a family of five. I am sure you can make many assumptions from that first statement. You can make assumptions about me, the way I was raised and what was expected of me. Sure, it is stereotypical but I am pretty sure that what you are thinking is somewhat correct (Yes, I had the earliest curfew out of my friends, a B was equivalent to an F, blah blah blah) . Growing up, I was conflicted, confused, and was always questioning myself “why me?” Sadly, I saw my “situation” as some sort of a burden that I was born with, but that was years ago. I have lived in five states so far and was isolated from any sort of Vietnamese community. The classmates and families I was always surrounded with had different morals than what my family had, so I could not help but feel that way. I always tried to hide the different things that set me apart from everyone else, and now, that is something that I am extremely ashamed to admit.

Changing my perspective was not something gradual, it took a certain two week long family trip two years ago that made me realize a lot about myself. Visiting the beautiful country of Vietnam answered so many questions and resolved the frustrations and angst that I had towards my culture. I really believe that visiting your country of origin builds a solid foundation for self identity. Sure, the answers are not directly laid out in front of you, but I was always the person that had to have a theory for why things are the way they are. And through my life experiences, travels and deep thoughts, I was able to figure out so many things. But most importantly, I find my unique culture a gift. 

To some of you, this is probably a subject that you have heard millions of times and to some of you (this group includes some of my closest friends) this is a fresh perspective that you never really thought of.

Well, this is my first blog and I am not too familiar with how it is supposed to be started or if there is any sort of etiquette I am supposed to have  but I have the intention of giving a fresh spin to showing how I have come to love being Vietnamese, that is, a teenage, female perspective (hopefully you haven’t had this perspective before?) But I will go in more depth on my experiences, travels and the Vietnamese culture itself. 

Here are some pictures from my second trip to Vietnam last summer, these are from Phu Quoc, a beautiful but small island.