TeresaPosted on 12 March 2021
As the 14th of March approaches which is when the UK celebrates Mother's Day, it vividly reminds me why food has always been a good topic of conversation between my mum and myself. It has brought us closer together as we've chatted about our recipes and when she gives me tips on how to improve my cooking, I see her face light up and hear her tone of voice becomes cheerful and animated.
Since the age of seven, my mum and I have lived on different continents. Although we've not been able to be physically close, whenever we talk about food whether it's eating or cooking, we naturally bond and understand each other wholeheartedly.
I was born in Vietnam and left as a boat refugee without my family. I grew up in Australia with my aunties and uncles and just before my parents moved to Australia, I relocated to London. I myself have became a mum to an adorable little girl, and she already enjoys watching me cook and loves to play with my pots and pans on the kitchen floor. I'm looking forward to the day when she and I can have deep meaningful conversations over a nice meal, or we simply enjoy our talks about food, cooking and life, as my mum and I do.
Mother's Day in the United Kingdom falls on the fourth Sunday before Easter during the period of lent, as depicted by the lunar calendar. The date is different each year and does not coincide with other countries where it is celebrated each year on the second Sunday in May.
In our Vietnamese culture, a great deal of importance is placed on girls learning about food and knowing how to cook. It is customary that once a girl gets married she would move into the household of her husband, so she needs to know how to win him over by cooking good food. Just like the saying, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach"! Besides this, back in the old days when arranged marriages were very common in Vietnam, a woman would not only have to please her husband with good food, but his whole family too. There have been many tales told in Vietnamese films of disagreeable mothers-in-law being won over by her son's new wife, simply because she was a really good cook. So the key to a woman's heart is through her stomach too, it would seem!
Nowadays I have many male friends who are exceptionally skilled in the kitchen, who roll up their sleeves and love to show off their culinary skills to their wives or girlfriends. I am not going to insist my daughter become a good cook just to please her husband or his family, however I will encourage her learn to cook so she has this as an essential life skill. If she loves to cook and appreciates the value of food with the same enjoyment it brings to me, then I know Ladudu's mantra which is “It's not just food, it's an experience” will become embedded within her also.
A mother-child relationship with food begins the day a mother becomes pregnant and she chooses the right nourishment for herself to benefit her unborn baby, and then on to what to eat should she choose to breastfeed, and what to feed her child when they're ready for solid food. As her child grows, the food bonding experience change and evolves into a daily routine as their lives take shape together. A busy working mum will be juggling many different daily tasks in addition to having to look after herself, and her family, whilst having to make time to prepare the right nourishment with good food. For this reason I have decided to make it my mission to create a delicious range of seasoning and sauces through my own brand Ladudu, to transform the humble home-cooked meal into a nurturing family dining experience.
Here is a recipe for a mild Vietnamese yellow curry with our chilli lemongrass paste suitable for our 15 month old daughter.
TeresaPosted on 12 March 2021
I know food can certainly bring families closer together. Which leads me to the big question I've been reflecting on for some time now "Can food heal divisiveness and racism in society?"
With everything that has been happening for some time now, it feels our world has become fuelled by crime and diversion, with systematic racism on the rise.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began there has been a rise in stigma, discrimination and anti-Asian hate crime towards Chinese or Asian/Oriental people around the world. Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have increased by as much as 150% in some major cities in the U.S., and 1900% reported by the NYPD in 2020.
In the U.K, anti-Asian hate crimes have become worse since Brexit and police data has indicated a 300% increase in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019. The death of George Floyd sparked the #blacklivesmatter movement, and the death of an elderly Thai man in San Francisco sparked the hashtag #StopAsianHate, which was widely shared on social media by many influencers, along with celebrities such as Gemma Chan and Henry Golding.
One case highlighted by the media was of Michael Lofthouse, a Silicon Valley tech CEO who resigned after facing backlash over a verbal attack video footage of him shouting racist comments at an Asian family in a restaurant, and was widely shared on social media. I myself have been subjected to racist slurs and comments by passers by on the street whilst growing up in Sydney, Australia and since I moved here to London, but thankfully I've not faced any serious violent threats.
Back to my question, "Can food bring people closer together in leading us towards a more tolerant world, where our differences can be sampled, tasted and appreciated, just as it does with food?" After all, Asian food is well perceived and popular around the world, especially Chinese food.
There is a Vietnamese saying: "ăn cơmTàu, ở nhà Tây, lấy vợ Nhật" which translates as “eat Chinese food, live in a Western house, marry a Japanese wife”.
This is not very culturally appropriate I know, but most Vietnamese find this amusing and there is a back story to it. It begins with the early days of Chinese settlement in Vietnam when the majority of restaurants were owned by Chinese serving Chinese food and when for many poor Vietnamese, eating in a restaurant had to be a special occasion. Even today, most Vietnamese restaurants are for casual dining and often those aiming towards finer dining, don't only serve Vietnamese dishes but include those of Chinese or Pan- Asian.
Chinese Influence on Vietnamese cuisine
The story continues that during the Colonial period, European houses were more elaborate and grandiose in comparison to Vietnamese style housing, and where most people could only ever dream of living in one, let alone be able to afford to spend even one night in a hotel.
Continuing with the saying of marrying a Japanese wife, this was supposedly something men aspired to have, from the mere fact of observing in films how Japanese women were being portrayed as subservient and obedient to their husband at all times. This saying can indeed be offensive to some people who do not know the explanation behind it, or have further understanding of how it came about.
Vietnam and China have been in a love-hate relationship for thousand of years, however most Vietnamese do love eating Chinese food, and our cuisine is heavily influenced by this. Vietnamese food is also very popular with Chinese people.
Although Vietnamese food is relatively new on the world's food cuisine map, whenever people discover I am Vietnamese, the first thing they usually tell me is “I love Vietnamese food!” or “I love Pho!” which is a popular Vietnamese noodles soup. This shows me people are much more open to connecting by using food as an ice-breaker.
* Insert Pho recipe which can be transformed into Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef noodles soup) to promote our Chilli & Lemon grass shrimp paste
Sharing food in social gatherings, or to sit around a table to celebrate special occasions does bring people closer together, regardless of race or religion. In my opinion, one of the best way to promote our cultural differences is to reach out and share our cuisine with each other, which can start creating healthier dialogue and a much needed understanding of each culture.
For this reason our goal at Ladudu is to introduce a range of Vietnamese sauces and seasoning to save cooking time at home. With the flavours we have to offer, our aim is to help people be inspired and/or simply get creative in easily making deliciously authentic Vietnamese dishes.
Our Social mission is to bring people together from different cultural backgrounds, to sit around the table and bond via a number of food initiatives. Each initiative will highlight differences in taste so we discover how, when we add our own flavours to make it more acceptable for our own palate, we all benefit by embracing these differences, rather than unkindly turning our backs through lack of understanding or an ill-informed choice.10 food initiatives fixing communities in London and beyond
Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and youtube @ ladudufood for more updates. For an honest insider view from Teresa directly you can follow her on her Facebook page : Teresa H Le where she shares her day-to-day thoughts as well as how she keeps herself balance as a business entrepreneur.
We hope to introduce more unique products as we grow to help you create delicious restaurant quality food at home. For multiple recipe ideas and how to use our products in different ways please carry on browsing the rest of our website or social media contents.
Cám ơn rất nhiều – Thank you very much!