( N. ) Val-d’Oise, in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, Île-de-France region
My first time to Paris last December wasn’t that all impressive, and the gloomy weather didn’t make it feel any better. But the only few positive notes I could remember were the beautifully-written English novel that I purchased at Shakespeare and Company, the celebration of New Year’s Eve with a friend of mine from high school that I haven’t seen for ages, and the mesmerizing scenes of La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur early in the morning while listening to Tim Dup’s Place Espoir. And of course, it was a lot less crowded than usual. This time, I visited the city for work purposes, so besides that, I took the chance to go for a long walk and enjoy the streets of Paris. The stunning clouds did an amazing job at exposing every magnificent side of the city. I didn’t have any plan this time as I wanted to go with the flow, so every corner were randomly “chosen”. I remember wandering around the Marais district in the 4th arrondissement, and I got to be honest that it instantly became my favourite spot. On Rue des Rosiers, I happened to come across the restaurant “L’As du Fallafel” where there was a crazily long line of people waiting to order. I didn’t end up getting anything, but from everyone’s look, I was pretty sure that the food must be very good. Also, I was literally in the falafel quartier!
However, I ended up exploring some awesome plant-based groceries at Mon Épicerie Paris at Rue de Gravilliers, and warmed up my morning with a tasty golden latte at Wild & the Moon just a few steps away. I have tried turmeric latte many times before, but to be honest, this place offered such a creative version with so much deliciousness. The combination of almond and coconut milk topped with a variety of spices, was impossible not to crave for more after the first few sips. It amazed me at how these touches of spices worked out so well. I know for sure that next time when I have this, I will remember this place and the cozy vibes on this charming cobblestone street. The city of light is memorable in that way, making everyone fall in love with her from the very first time. But as the saying goes, the concept of infatuated love exposes us to a deceptive world, that only lasts momentarily.
A little cozy corner for Cô to plant herbs, cook traditional delicious Viet dishes, meditate and spend time in nature.
I got luckier this time, coincidentally, by staying in the outskirts of Paris. The RER train that took me from the center of Paris to Achères, Satrouville, Neuville-sur-Oise and then Cergy, offered such a spectacularly scenic ride. None of this was expected. I was already exhausted by the time I got on this train, so I was almost sleeping halfway until I opened my eyes for a second and realized that I needed to stay awake. It was definitely worth it. These small cities are always considered as “les banlieues de Paris” with such a negative connotation, but they offer such a peaceful, refreshing and life-centered place to build a family after navigating through a full and exhausting work day in Paris. A hygge life is not hard to find outside the bustling streets of “Paris”.
chuyen cuoc đoi
Bánh Xèo is probably the most special dish I’ve had so far this year. I remember growing up making wraps with tasty Viet crêpes, fresh lettuce and pickled carrots, and then dipping them into homemade fish sauce while watching Mùi Ngò Gai with my family, one of the most classic Viet movies for our generation. After going vegan, I didn’t spend much time to veganize Viet cuisine, and on top of that, living alone gave me another excuse for not cooking a lot of Viet dishes. So I haven’t had bánh xèo for over 5 years, and this was also the first time making a plant-based one. The most fun that I had wasn’t the eating part, but rather it was always the cooking time together with cô, our way of addressing an older female figure with love and respect.
Food is powerful in the way that it creates an authentic connection filled with long-lasting memories. The art of cooking together empowers us to share, listen and understand. All the feelings that we experience in our daily life, are all embedded in the center of this enriching process. We don’t cook to have a plate full of food on the table, but rather we cook to rediscover the taste of life. And storytelling was an indispensable ingredient. The way we construct our life narratives are portrayed patiently through every step of this communal activity. We not only share the fresh taste of those basil leaves, but we also get to share our own taste of life meanings.
UOP DAU HU & CHA LUA chay
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.
Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
KHO & CANH
Poached tofu with lemongrass & soy sauce, served with white rice & soup.
I remember growing up watching my mom making delicious dishes without using any measurement. Tablespoons just didn’t exist in her kitchen, but somehow she knew exactly which spices to add, how much to adjust the taste, and especially when to add them. And I remember seeing the exact same thing while watching my Korean mom making Korean kimchi jjigae at Maht. I’ve been lucky enough to be around them to observe, listen and learn from them silently, but in such a powerful way. I’ve learnt over time the secrets of life through the art of cooking. A recipe for happiness just doesn’t exist.
“Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is “timing”
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.”
― Fulton J. Sheen