Over the last three weeks, the northeast US has been hit with a blizzard a week. It’s resulted in government closures and public transit shut downs. I’ve been enjoying the snowy views from my window. However, these circumstances have limited my ability to procure Vietnamese ingredients. This is a situation I didn’t foresee when I began this project.
For the time thus far in Vietnam, I have only been able to get to the local, American grocery store. I’ve been trying to substitute ingredients as best as possible, with the exception of the sinh to bo, a heavenly avocado shake I had access to all the ingredients for. Sometimes, the results were pretty good, but other times, the results were just okay, like with beef pho, or pho bo. I’ve always enjoyed pho I’ve had at Vietnamese restaurants, so I was excited to make it—but it’s just not that good without real broth. I know from making chicken broth that the prepackaged stuff just doesn’t compare, and I suspect this is the case with beef broth as well. It was fun, though, to see the young guy’s reaction at the butcher counter when I asked if they had beef knuckle bones (they didn’t). I’ve been debating whether to put those posts up, hoping that the weather would clear and I’d be able to make more authentic versions of the recipes by getting the proper ingredients, hence the delay in posts.
This past Saturday, there was no blizzard—just bitter cold and lots of snow and ice. The night before, I realized that I was running out of Vietnam time and that if I didn’t pick up those ingredients, I should postpone Vietnam. I was determined—I’d make it to that grocery. The next morning, though, I woke up freezing—our apartment building had lost its heat and hot water. I put on two pairs of everything and stumbled into the kitchen. When I opened the cupboard, I saw a box of mac and cheese and a can of chicken soup and craved both. That’s all I was interested in—hot, hearty comfort food. I thought about the nem ran that I was planning to make—they sound delicious, but they are delicate wraps best suited for warmer weather. I decided that in these circumstances, I would postpone the remainder of Vietnam for the summer. I’ve been taking the remainder of the time planned for Vietnam for baking and planning future meals. Since we had the freedom to cook whatever we felt like, we went with Aussie chicken parmi. That stuff was good!
I’ll post the recipes from Vietnam using substitute ingredients that came out pretty good over the next two days. Oh, and my heat and hot water are back on!