6 months ago
Leave it to an American to teach me to be proud of my Vietnamese heritage. When you grow up as a child of immigrants, you desperately want to assimilate to white people — well, at least I did. It all came from a place of insecurity about being different in America. Friends who came over rarely stayed for dinner, not because they weren’t welcome, but because I was afraid they'd think the food my family ate was weird. I could never imagine a day would come where I could take a date to Phở 75 the way I can enthusiastically do now. While I’ve always been in touch with my Vietnamese roots, I can’t say I grew up genuinely proud of them. That is until @anthonybourdain shined a light on my people’s food. There he was on the @travelchannel on TV, in my motherland, showing the western world the intricacies of a proper bánh mì sandwich (if it doesn’t have pâté, you played yourself). From what I saw, Anthony Bourdain approached his travel and work with a profound level of respect for the communities he was visiting, with genuine curiosity and a level of integrity that preserved the authenticity of each culture. When he chose Hanoi to break bread with @barackobama , he took him to the most local of joints, Bún Chả Hương Liên. There he was again on TV, sitting on tiny plastic stools, throwing back beers while eating a dish I’ve grown up eating my entire life, with the leader of the free world. Overnight, he became known in Vietnam as “Mr. Bún Chả.” The visit was so momentous that the restaurant encased the table and stools the two sat at, a memorial that will take on new meaning after today. His love for Vietnam was inspiring, saying, "Going to Vietnam the first time was life-changing.” Thank you, Tony, for opening the world’s eyes to the beauty of my culture and in the process teaching me how much there is to be proud of, being Vietnamese. On one visit he said, "For me, a good bowl of phở will always make me happy. Take me to that special place where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.” Tony, I hope you’ve found your aluminum table, low plastic stool, and a bottomless bowl of phở and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts anymore. RIP Mr. Bún Chả.