Friday, July 31, 2009

Books to Drool Over, July edition

I was really excited about Paula Nguyen's Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes From the Heart, when I found it at the library. It's a 342-paged combination of Vietnamese recipes and memoir. The essays start in Vietnam and detail the family's escape and eventual settling in Australia.

This is a beautiful book, with photographs of both food and family, as well as other artwork, interspersed among the recipes. The pages are thick, and it has one of those silk bookmarks attached to it. I love those things.

Will I use it? The trouble is, it's too big to carry around to read as a memoir, and even as a cookbook it's unwieldy. I wish Andrews McNeel had published it as either a memoir with a few recipes at the end of each chapter, or a cookbook with brief memories, and not both.

The pictures of the food made me want to go to Nguyen's restaurant, they looked so delicious. But these aren't, for the most part, recipes I'm going to fix at home for my family, what with the pork bellies and the dried mushroom strips and the pennywort, and all. I might make the Ca Rot Chua (pickled carrots), since we've gotten more carrots from our CSA than we can munch through, and it looks delicious and simple. You're supposed to put them into Banh Mi Thit (Vietnamese Pork Rolls), but I think I'd either use them in tortilla roll-ups or lettuce wraps, or just toss them into a green salad. Here are the basics:

Bring to a boil, then cool:
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
Grate 3 large carrots and place in a jar, cover with vinegar mixture, let sit overnight.

There are probably more recipes as doable as this one, but between the size of the book and the number of recipes with ingredients that would be hard to come by, I got overwhelmed and found myself just gazing at the pictures, getting hungry for take-out Vietnamese or Thai food.

Publication Info: Andrews McNeel, 2007, ISBN:978-0-7407-7743-1


  1. That does sound like a book to drool over - I love memoirs and recipes in it are an added bonus.

  2. That book sounds yummy :)

  3. I love food-themed memoirs. This sounds wonderful.

  4. This sounds wonderful and I just love the cover! I would almost want it around because it is lovely to look at ... I dont have a lot of recipe books anymore... this one could be an exception...