11 February, 2010

Hybrid vigor.

Increased vigor or other superior qualities arising from the crossbreeding of genetically different plants or animals. Also called heterosis. (taken from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

Perhaps this can also occur at the human level.
Having an American-born father and a mother of Vietnamese descent means many things, among these a number of benefits--certainly so in the culinary department. I'm leaving the south of France for a while: boarding in a few hours to feast and celebrate Tết, or Vietnamese lunar new year, which lands on February 14th this year. As you may have noticed, I'm using the subject of this post as an excuse to share with you a bit of what I saw during the time I spent in Vietnam some two years ago. Tết is the most significant time of the year to visit family, which is what I will be doing--this time not in Vietnam, but rather in Little Saigon, located in Orange County, California (about an hour's freeway drive from Los Angeles). This particular Little Saigon--like Chinatowns, there are many--has one of (if not the) largest concentrations of Vietnamese in the diaspora. Thus the celebration of Tết is entered into with real spirit, including the preparation of special foods and cleaning house, metaphorically and physically. In the ten or so days leading up to Tết debts are paid off and homes are scrubbed from floor to ceiling, with particular attention given to the family altar. The Kitchen Gods are sent off with charm, ceremony and hope.
I'm not sure what the Kitchen Gods would make of my own multi-culti kitchen. Perhaps in my cooking they would occasionally recognize a certain looking back and longing for a background that isn't as familiar to me as I would like it to be. In the coming week, I will be trying to make up for lost time.


  1. Is it odd to like bitter melon because I really do? I will be celebrating February 14 with my chinese friend who will be having a party. I can't wait. Have a good trip Tammy! Whatever you do, don't speed and be careful of red light cameras. California cops are after our blood giving tickets right and left. Whomever stole our money needs to put some back and guess where they are taking it from? Our pockets, so be careful driving!

  2. What beautiful photos! I love the idea of starting the new year off fresh like that, with a clean house and altar.

    What does one say? "Happy New Year" or "Happy Tet?" Whatever it is, enjoy!

  3. Thanks for the fair warning, Nadege, I am now in (very sunny) CA. No problem with speeding at all: too busy enjoying the scenery!

    Thanks Rose! I love the idea of starting anew, as well. Intrinsically optimistic...


Thanks for visiting my blog and joining in the conversation!

Related Posts with Thumbnails