About Nita

Vietnamese-American gastronome with a taste for home cooked meals living in the burbs of Paris.

As soon as summer comes to an end, there is no shortage of events and art exhibits to keep us entertained during the fall. Most of the interesting events take place in Paris though, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the town I live in host a Food Truck Festival a few weeks ago. The event was the first and largest of its kind in France, and perhaps even in all of Europe (so says this article).

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I recently read in the latest edition of the newly revived French Master Chef magazine that Vietnamese cuisine includes at least 500 dishes. 500 dishes – that is astronomical! I feel like a neophyte of my own cuisine, even though I grew up in a Vietnamese household subsisting mostly on foods from my parents’ native country. I haven’t even come close to eating through the cuisine, and I’m constantly discovering dishes through my MIL’s kitchen, exploring restaurants and the internet, which gives me the chance to uncover the cuisines from around the world without having to set foot on an airplane.

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No matter how hungry I was, I always dreaded the lunch period during elementary and middle school. It was either unpalatable food stuff processed beyond recognition, whose quality was on par with a meal that I had in a Texas prison. Or, it was leftovers that my mom packed for us. Neither alternative was appealing to me at the time. As much as I loved my mom’s cooking, eating then unknown Vietnamese dishes while my classmates nibbled on their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches was excrutiatingly embarrassing.

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DGiven the speed at which we pass from one thing to the next, it’s no wonder that few things hold timeless value anymore. The digital age has transformed how we chronicle our lives and interact with one another. Our compulsion to document just about everything, including our most mundane routine activities and banal thoughts, has become second nature. Reaching for our mobile devices to digitally capture everything, however, diminishes the significance of any given moment, because we’ve become so fixated on the images and videos themselves, rather than savoring the instant.

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This post is a short one because I didn’t have much free time to write this week. I finally buckled down and spent a considerable amount of time working on my master’s thesis. My ideas are finally starting to crystallize and I made quite a bit of headway. I didn’t, however, want to abandon this series after only one week into it. Though this one is brief, I have another post in the works about a classic Vietnamese dish. So stay tuned next week!

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I should be working on my master’s thesis, but I decided instead to create a weekly blog series. Too much of the same routine can lead to stagnation, so I wanted to throw something different into the mix (as well as concoct new ways to procrastinate). I haven’t quite figured out exactly what this series will entail, but I would like it to serve as a space for sharing interesting stories that I come across, most likely those with a food bent. In a recent post, I wrote about how my attention span has increasingly dwindled and how I would like to veer away from simple drive-by information consumption. By sharing interesting stories, I’m hoping to spark discussion and deeper reflection around these topics.

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During the summer months, Paris dials down the city’s tempo to a languid pace. The city becomes a near ghost town, especially in August, when city dwellers leave en masse for their summer vacations. Many businesses also close up shop for the month, while work projects come to a halt, only to resume à la rentrée (back to school/work in September). While the Parisians flee the city in search of respite elsewhere, I prefer to stay behind, enjoying the quiet and revelling in the vacancy of the streets.

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When Albert Camus wrote that “real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present,” I doubt that he imagined a world that is perpetually plugged-in like ours. Being fully present in any given moment has become a near impossible feat with the constant inundation of information and content enticing us to mindlessly swipe and stare at our screens. We’ve become a society that is increasingly tethered to our mobile devices, so much so that our attention span has diminished to less than that of a goldfish.

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Change is inevitable, but may not always be as timely as we would like. When inertia starts to become too comfortable, you yourself must sometimes catalyze the disruption of static routine. This is where I was last year when I realized that I had reached an impasse in my career.

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Before day even broke, we hopped on a bus for 2€ one Sunday morning last October and headed northwest to Rouen, the capital city of Normandy. The minute the driver revved the engine, I was out cold, snoozing the entire 2 hour ride only to wake from my slumber once we reached our destination. The bus was continuing to Le Havre, but like us, most of the other passengers got off at Rouen for the weekend long Fête du Ventre, which literally translates to the Stomach Festival.

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