Saturday, May 24, 2008

What the pho?

Thoughts upon returning to Orange County on this 24th of May, most of them gastronomical:

  • No one makes pho as good as your mom. Pho restaurants may try very hard, and name themselves annoying slangy names like "Pho Shizzle," or "Pho Good" or "Pho Real" (these are all real and I could tell you the cities), or names like "Pho Kim Long" that inadvertantly invite juvenile and unfortunate jokes from the gringos much in the way "Long Duc Dong" did back in the '80s (and oh yes, this is a potentially real combination of names, as are the lovely Vietnamese names "Bich" and "Phuc"). But they're just not as good. It's the way you make the stock from the beef bones over a low simmer for like 6 hours, and the bundle of herbs and aromatics, the names of which I don't even know in Vietnamese, except that it does involve anise and cloves. I ate a big bowl as soon as I got to my parents'. With barely cooked thinly sliced beef and cilantro. And a grass jelly drink.
  • Incidentally, it's pronounced "phuh," not "phoh." Puh-leeze get that right. Also, imagine a little question mark accent mark on top of the "o,"and yes, you are supposed to sound like you're asking a question when you say it. "What the pho?" is the perfect way to remember how to say it, and also not really say a cuss word and be actually funny, unlike saying "fook," which I just do not get.
  • I also ate half a Vietnamese banh mi. I couldn't eat much more than that, even though I wanted to, especially since it was a dac biet "special" sandwich with Vietnamese bologna, lpork liver pate, jalapenos, cilantro, and pickled daikon and carrots on a French baguette with Vietnamese (French) mayo. I can find those in the city next to Liberal College City, but I am really lazy about going anywhere that is not between my apartment and school. This sounds awful, I know. I actually was taken to a new restaurant last night by TD, and it was new because I had not yet gone that far (south? I think?) on the Bourgie Ave running parallel to my street and a half mile away. That was delish! I really connected to my French/Indochine roots as I enjoyed a kir royale, pate (I started the re-Vietnamization early), and mussels. And I'm not allergic to mussels, unlike my sad allergy to shrimp, so I am not the Worst Vietnamese Person in the world! Well, I only ate six. But one bite of shrimp will send me into a spiral of physical pain and emotional guilt over betraying my fisherman village father in yet another way on top of being a liberal assimilated humanities major civil rights law professing person. So, hooray for mussels, an item found at every Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant you may want to try! Now I can be all WASPy and eat clam chowder, too. Oh, crap.
  • Every country in Asia has a different type of mochi/rice flour sticky sweet dumpling. Ours is the best. I have now offended the entire country of Japan.
  • I hate raisins and dry coconut, but raisin coconut bread is the bomb.
  • There is no slushy like a cherimoya/sour sop/mang cau slushy. 7-11, take note.
  • I can't eat anymore.
  • This is good, because I immediately felt fat upon disembarking the plane. Ah, Southern California. If Liberal College City is where fashion goes to die, then Orange County (which tries to imitate Los Angeles) is where it goes to lose all discretion and good taste. A combination of blinged-out heeled flip-flops (cannot bring myself to say "thong"), incredibly expensive t-shirts (3 Dots, Michael Stars, C&C), hot pants from American Apparel (augh!! and they're not running marathons!), tight jeans, stilettos, and exposed mid-sections. I am not going to complain about the granola crunchiness of Liberal College City anymore. I love that LCC uniform of jeans and a fleece jacket. More than I realized. I miss it terribly already. Especially light-wash jeans in an unfashionably relaxed-fit cut. Not that I'm buying back into that blinged out look. I went through three years of stilettos, big earrings, and strapping on 20 lbs of laptop + books, which was painful and lame. But right now I'm rocking my college hooded sweatshirt, and remembering why a gigantic applique U-C-I across the chest is not totally flattering unless you're as skinny as most of the OC girls. Vicous circle.
  • Eight of the nine kids totally love me as their favorite aunt, and it is the perfect Machiavellian combination of being both feared and loved. This is pretty much why I go home. The ninth one doesn't love me because he was born when I moved away to Liberal College Law. He recoils from my touch. This kind of breaks my heart.
  • My CD collection from high school and college is so embarassingly bad. A post on that later.
  • I now remember why I am not allowed to connect my TV to an antennae thing, and why I don't have cable, much less premium. Or why I don't buy a bunch of movies.
  • That "Sea of Love" scene in Juno makes me cry every time. I love that song, and especially when sung by Cat Power. Also, I have now seen this movie three times.
  • I can't bring myself to watch a violent movie before bedtime, if ever. TD thinks I am such a wuss for this. Sorry, DVD of "No Country For Old Men."
  • I really miss TD already, but because this is not an Emily Gouldish personal blog, I can't admit that here.