Toward the end of our trip to the Bay Area, lil' sis got sick. The night we got in, I doused her with Theraflu and Airborne. The next morning, she was still feeling sickly, so I made her chicken soup, the Vietnamese version of course. By late afternoon, the combination of medicine and Vietnamese chao ga did its trick and I declared her fit enough to drive to Vegas to celebrate her birthday with the girls.
I had a much more pedestrian evening, inviting a handful of friends over for dinner.
Later that night, my friend caught me online and after our usual pleasantries veered into a discussion about whether food equates to love. For me, the answer is rather obvious. For him, decidedly the opposite.
you are into food
you got to keep up working with that field
you really like food
and talking about food
it's just not like that for most people
Me: i like feeding people who enjoy being fed
Friend: i for example
say "i ate dinner"
i don't think about the food once it's gone
that's the point
i don't pay any attention really
it's not important to me really
you have an interest
you need to keep doing something with it
that is my point
Me: yes, b/c food = love
Friend: that's in no way true
Me: it is in my family or for me
Friend: but you do have a sincere interest
Me: for instance, lil' sis is sick. she asked for me to make her chao. i went to the store and made her fresh chao ga with scallion cilantro dipping sauce
she ate it and was comforted by warm soup and the knowledge that i loved her enough to make her something she wanted and needed
but food does = love
lil' sis says thank you for taking care of her and for being the best sister
Friend: you'll never, ever get me to agree with you on that
Me: i made chao b/c i love her and know she would appreciate it
she eats it b/c she loves me and appreciates the effort
Friend: the argument will not persuade
Me: my bro just told her on the phone to take her medicine
well, it only works if you appreciate and understand the gesture
if food doesn't mean anything to you, then me cooking for you won't change that
for instance, my bro could eat it or not, makes no difference to him
he doesn't appreciate it when i cook for him. i'm eating it, aren't i, he says
and that's that
Friend: i find the intention, the effort and the concern entirely separate from the food
it's an inanimate substance
with no inherent properties
there's nothing transitive about the principles
Me: but the intention, effort and concern are part of it all. the tangible part is the food
reading the msg behind how that food came about is where you find the love
Friend: but these things are not the food
the food is a pile of inanimate mass
you speak as an artist
or some sort of creative person
Me: certainly when it comes to food
the flavors, the seasonings, the presentation
Friend: these ideas have no place in my brain
i'm the least creative person on earth
and the least "passionate"
Me: if i made you fresh doughnuts
Friend: i would see 2 things
2.) a nice gesture
Me: you wouldn't read into my effort to make something i knew you would like?
esp if this had taken place when you were in Vietnam and were craving those very foods?
Friend: your effort would be appreciated
you keep mixing the thing up
the food has nothing to do with the emotions
the emotions are entirely free standing
they exist on their own
*****So what do you think? Do you agree with me? Or with my friend?
Chao Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Rice Porridge)
For a 2-quart pot of rice porridge, you'll need:
4 chicken thighs or whatever portion you like, bone-in
1 tsp salt
2 cups jasmine rice
Optional: Serve this with my Chinese Scallion Cilantro Dipping Sauce
One of my favorite methods for making a quick and flavorful broth is to boil the water and bones at a high temperature. This extracts the maximum flavor from the bones, although it can sometimes leave the broth cloudy. Hence, why really good ramen broth looks milky. If you have the time, simmer at a lower temperature for longer, but I had a sick lil' sis who needed food in a jiffy.
Fill a 5-quart stock pot with 4 quarts of water and set the heat to high. When the water boils, add in the chicken pieces and salt and let the broth come to a roiling boil again. Turn the heat down to medium-high so it doesn't boil over and let the stock bubble away for about half an hour.
Then remove the chicken pieces and set aside. Skim the broth until all impurities are removed and the broth is clear.
Turn the heat down to medium. Add 2 cups of jasmine rice. Let the soup cook for about 30 minutes or more, depending on how you like the consistency and thickness of your rice porridge.
When the chicken has cooled down. Discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat and add it back into the pot. You might not need to add all the meat so if you have extra, you can make Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad).
Add water or salt if necessary until the chao is the way you like it.
Serve chao ga with Chinese Scallion Cilantro Dipping sauce if you wish.
Give the soup to a sickie. :)
Other rice porridge recipes:
Chao (Vietnamese Rice Porridge)
Chao/Congee/Jook Thit Heo Bam Hot Vit Bac Thao (Vietnamese/Chinese Rice Porridge with Ground Pork and Preserved Duck Egg)
Chao Hot Vit Bach Thao (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Preserved Duck Egg)
Chao Oc (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Clams)
1 year ago today, On Blogging and Food Blogging.
2 years ago today, Che Bap (Vietnamese Pudding with Corn and Tapioca Pearls in Coconut Milk).