Articles / Vietnamese Cooking in America Comes Full Circle


Vietnamese Cooking in America Comes Full Circle

Published November 16, 2023

Plus: Recipes to die for, sugar warnings, and the “next” Joan Didion

Andrea and Clara Nguyen. Photo: Rory O’Brien

This Week’s Marksisms

Recipes to Die For (Sorry)

You might want a recipe on your tombstone, but you would not be the first. This came as something of a shock to me. (Via our friends at The Browser.)

Sugar Alerts?

Photo: Getty Images

New York City says it’s going to warn eaters about the dangers of added sugars. (We’ve heard this before, but it might actually be happening this time.)

Food with Mark Bittman: Clara and Andrea Nguyen

Plant-based cooking is a topic near and dear to my heart (literally), and in Ever-Green Vietnamese: Super-Fresh Recipes, Starring Plants from Land and Sea—and in this week’s episode of Food, on which she appears with her mom, Clara—Andrea Nguyen reveals a similar journey.

It’s no surprise that poultry, beef, pork, and seafood became a bigger part of Andrea’s childhood meals after the family fled Vietnam at the end of the war and settled in San Clemente, California. Until then, Clara, Andrea’s mom, reports, vegetables were the most available and affordable ingredients. (Funny: Andrea, her siblings, and Kerri—who co-hosted with me this week—all attended San Clemente High school in the mid-70s and early 80s and Kerri and Andrea connected more than a decade ago.)

Andrea and Clara also have a lively discussion about how their cooking for friends and family has changed over the years—and how it’s stayed the same. We mentioned Andrea’s Char Siu Roasted Cauliflower on the podcast—you can find that here—which illustrates her modern approach to classic flavors. Hope you’ll join me and Kerri as we explore food and more with these extraordinary women.

Follow Food with Mark Bittman on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Pocket Casts | Amazon Music

California Writin’

Joan Didion, 2003. Photo: Getty Images

If there is a mantle to inherit from Joan Didion as “the best California writer about California,” Mark Arax (“The Dreamt Land,” among others) deserves it. Super-nice to see him in the NYT Magazine.

But This Week, Mostly … Football!

C.J. Stroud. Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Like many fans, I watched so much football yesterday — beginning with the morning game, played in the afternoon in Germany — that I feel I should be writing nachos recipes. (There is one in How to Cook Everything, of course.) Mostly, I snack on bread and bean dip. (I made a great one this week: 2 cups cooked “cream peas” — which I picked up in New Orleans, you don’t see them much in the north — olive oil, lemon, rosemary, salt, pepper, raw garlic, tahini, all more or less to taste.)

But with Red Zone — the addictive, plug-your-brain-into-a-socket, nonstop, no commercial channel from the NFL — there’s no time to eat.

There is, however, time to second-guess. I’m in a “betting” group (only pride is involved, no money), with both of my sons-in-law and someone who calls themself “mysterioso,” and, of course, the son-in-law who knows more about sports than anyone has a losing record, I have a mediocre record, and the son-in-law who just took up football casually a couple of years ago (who, it should be said, is also a genius), went eleven and one yesterday — which I guarantee was better than at least 95 percent of all professional gamblers and gambling writers. (Professional gamblers do well if they win 55 percent of the time; that’s about where I usually land, so I’m not a complete idiot.) This streak cannot last, but in the meantime, we should be betting on his bets.

Meanwhile, a couple of questions: Is C.J. Stroud really that good? Can Patrick Mahomes be as good as we think he is with Travis Kelce either love-struck or showing his age and Tyreek Hill on the wrong team? Are the Bengals back? Are the Bills dead (it’s entirely possible they’ll miss the playoffs)?

I know the Eagles and Chiefs keep winning, but I don’t know that either of them is as impressive as the Ravens.

Now watch the Giants run off five in a row. (Not happening.)

See ya next week!