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Friday, September 24, 2010

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 13

My Ong Noi's Dam Gio (Vietnamese Paternal Grandfather's Death Anniversary)

The spread at my oldest uncle's house last night for my ong noi's dam gio (Vietnamese paternal grandfather's death anniversary). (Although, technically my ong noi is Chinese. :P)

I'm rather exhausted so I don't really have much to say for this month. Just my usual spiel about trying to catch up on the blog and life in general.

I have two giveaways that I'd like to point out though.

For Southern California area residents, I'm giving away five pairs of tickets to the Pasadena Wine Festival. There are multiple chances to win so do read the post for clarification.

For the rest of the U.S., I'm giving away two prizes from Oh! Nuts with two separate deadlines so again, please read the directions.

I quite like that the blog has grown enough to generate some giveaways for my readers. Beats my cheesy Asian grocery store product giveaways from previous years. :P I know everyone loves giveaways, but I really try not to use them as a marketing ploy. I think of them as little thank yous from me to you. If you've been reading regularly, subscribing via readers or email, or following via Twitter or Facebook, then you're the dedicated reader whom I wish to thank.

Frankly, I've been a little burnt out from the competitive self-promotion that's been going on in the blogosphere of late. I know we all want to be read, and we all have different tolerance levels, mine just seems to be very short these days. What annoys me? People who can't leave a comment without dropping a link to their blog, keeping in mind that their names are already linked to their blogs in the comment form. So a second link screams, "Click me! Visit my blog! Gimme hits!" Perhaps it's because I've had far too many people leave bland comments hoping to get traffic via my comments, or people who just drop links to their own recipes without even leaving any comment at all, or people who literally try to market their business in my comments. I don't get that much traffic, and I got it the old-fashioned way -- by leaving normal comments on people's posts without screaming for attention. Shameless self-promotion might get you traffic, just not from me.

Also, as for Twitter, one tweet for a new post is acceptable, a second tweet is Spam, and retweeting people who retweet your post is just ridiculous. I know people are trying to get morning or evening traffic in different parts of the world, but you know what? If people are interested, they will read your blog regardless of whether you tweet that you have a new post. Daily tweets about your blog event or other goings on get annoying too. If someone says something complimentary about a post, why not just reply back to that person? No need to retweet to everyone that someone complimented you. No need to retweet to everyone your reply to someone's question. No need to retweet everyone's #FF (Follow Friday), which are just an endless stream of people's Twitter IDs anyway. And definitely no need to retweet people listing you in their #FF. So if I've unfollowed you, those are the reasons why. I like being able to communicate with multiple people at once. I like being able to get to know people better. I don't like feeling marketed to.

Ha! Did I say I didn't have much to say? Just been thinking about how blogging has changed in the past few years. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me?

Anyway, got a recipe question? Restaurant question? Just want to say, "Hi?" Did you miss Ask Wandering Chopsticks 1? Or click on the "Ask Wandering Chopsticks" tag below for previous editions. Otherwise, what's on your mind? You have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, September 26.

1 year ago today, Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage.
2 years ago today, The Cravery - Tustin (Closed) and Live on the Go redux.
3 years ago today, Tri-Colored Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta.


  1. From what I've seen of late, I do think your blog has evolved. :) I agree with you and I'm sure with everyone else about the giveaways. It's nice being able to possibly win something.

    How are you these days? Hope all is well.

    My question is: how do you like your eggs?

  2. Whoa Diana!
    What were you doing up so early? So what do you think of it's "evolution"?

    Well, I know lots of bloggers who use the giveaways as ways to get more traffic and ask you to follow them on Twitter or Facebook in order to win the prize, similar to what I did with the Pasadena Wine Festival but that's at their request, not for my blog. I just figure people will follow however they want to in order to keep updated. Random people who only join for freebies will most likely just unfollow after the freebie is over anyway. I'd rather reward the loyal readers I already have and hope they continue to stay awhile.

    How do I like my eggs? That's creepy lady. And didn't that pick-up line get retired several decades ago? If you weren't married with a kid... :P

    Mostly scrambled or op la ie. the two egg recipes I posted on the blog. Oh wait, and sometimes deviled with Sriracha. So the three egg recipes I have on the blog then.

    Hey! Did you make the cottage pie this week? What did you think? You didn't like it huh? That's why you didn't tell me? :(

    Hope you're having a nice weekend!

  3. I don't blame you for having a short tolerance fuse. Mine has gone down to practically near zero these days, and I suspect age (as well as dealing with far too much drama irl) has a lot to do with it. I tend to be a little less frequent on blogs these days, but it doesn't mean I don't read 'em to catch up and I always enjoy reading your posts. :) My own blog's been sadly neglected, but that's brain drain and rl talking (and sheer burnout from rl, hah!)

    Soooo. Let me see. My question would be:

    What are your top five favourite dishes?

  4. Shuku,
    Ha! That means I've turned into a cranky old lady. Oh wait, that already happened years ago...

    My blogging and blog reading comes and goes. I think it's that way for everyone.

    I like and in this order:
    My mom's banh canh cua (Vietnamese thick noodles with crab) with crab my parents caught and mom's homemade noodles.

    My grandma's banh nam (Vietnamese flat dumpling with pork and shrimp).

    Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc (Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Snails).

    Sup Mang Tay Cua (Vietnamese Asparagus and Crab Soup).

    Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp).

    Banh beo and banh quai vac and other Vietnamese dumplings would be somewhere on that list too, but I'd have to say that no matter my mood or where, those dishes are always, always so comforting.

  5. Now those dishes sound -really- good. I'd have to say that your Cha Trung rates up there on my list. It was one of the first dishes I cooked when I moved into the new place! I want to try the Sup Man Tay Cua now...

  6. Oh I was up getting ready to work out. :P haha

    As for the egg question, I was just curious.

    The cottage pie was great! Except I ran out of carrots and wished I had more in it. :(

    I think the evolution of your blog is awesome; it's getting even more personal and it seems like you interact with your readers more through your post i.e. Ask WC posts :)

    Is it just me or are more marketing ppl trying to reach out to you lately? Is there a book in the works?

    I hope you're having a great weekend too!

  7. I just wanted to say I really love reading your blog. There was a period of time when I had to really exhibit some self control or else I would end up spending two or three hours going over old posts (I started following earlier this year). Being an avid cook since I was a child, my mom would cook all the Vietnamese food in our house, and I would cook everything else (e.g. American or Mexican food). So now that I live far away in a town where I feel like the token Viet person, I've been craving Vietnamese food but don't know how to make most of it. Thanks to your blog, I can call my mom up and brag to her that I made pho or cha gio.

    So my question is: What's your favorite cookbook?

  8. Shuku,
    Ha! You know the cha trung was only made twice in all of the years of the blog and for those two sets of photos in the recipe post? And only because I was making the rice plate. It's not one of my comfort dishes. So it's great to hear that you like it so much.

    I turn more to soups for favorite dishes, as you can tell. If I must, I would happily subsist on only soup and dumplings.

    You get up at 5 a.m. to work out? Insane! But I guess that's why you're fit and I'm not. :P

    I generally don't like cooked carrots. And I looove carrot juice. So one carrot for one pie was quite enough for me.

    I think the more friends I make online, the more comfortable I've been with it. That and more friends and family are reading the blog and want to see themselves mentioned. That's why I made that lil' sis tag. She likes to click on it and read through all the posts that mention her, or feature food she likes. Her friends have started reading it too, or were already reading, unbeknownst to me and her.

    I've always interacted with my readers and have never made anyone stick to the topic of the post. But I guess these "Ask WC" posts help sanction random questions more? In case people were too afraid to ask before. While I appreciate the compliments, there's only so many ways you can say something looks good and only so many ways I can say thanks.

    Also, when I do get personal, it's about universal things like family and friends. Not about dating (Ha!) or work or anything like that. I don't want to have to delete anything I've written so I was always conscious from the beginning about that. I am an open book in real life, not so much online.

    With the exception of blog friends or people who already know about it, I don't mention the blog to others either. I sort of feel weird about casual acquaintances, or people I've met only once, reading about my life? Because then it does get personal when they know who I am? Lurkers who stay in lurkdom are fine. Real life people who don't know me well, who lurk, make me uncomfortable? Ha! I know. I'm weird.

    The ones who do annoy me, and I guess I'm not supposed to say it if I want everyone to like me, but hey, I'm human, are the people who only comment or email to ask for things. They never comment, yet they email me out of the blue asking for family recipes that I've said I don't share, and they think I'll make an exception for them? Or the ones who never comment otherwise, except when they're asking for something. I don't have that much traffic, so I remember who’s who. Conversely, if it's a reader who comments regularly, or who makes my recipes and leaves feedback, I’m much more helpful. I think people don't think about the fact that I'm human. That manners matter. That building a rapport will garner a far better response than making demands, especially from a stranger. As I mentioned, I've got a short fuse these days!

    I get some more freebie offers these days. Most of them the past year have been dinners, so the actual products are nice because then I ask if they'd like to do a giveaway for my readers. I've heard of bloggers getting offered cars and vacations. Ha! Imagine if I could give away that! But I think cookbooks or tickets to events or gift certificates or products are nice too.

  9. Phuong,
    I love hearing when people have spent hours reading the blog! It means they're enjoying it! :)

    I like "Secrets of the Red Lantern" by Luke and Pauline Nguyen. It's a gorgeous book with authentic recipes and a heart-wrenching story. Although, I am conflicted about whether that type of story is appropriate for a cookbook.

    I also have a soft spot for "The Foods of Vietnam" by Nicole Routhier simply because it was the first Vietnamese cookbook that I ever saw and she showed me other Vietnamese dishes before I started eating and cooking them myself.

    I've been meaning to write posts on both of those cookbooks, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

  10. Amen on the increasing self-promotion by some bloggers. I think some of them would be better served by spending the time on their posts and letting the blogs speak for themselves.

    Routhier's was also the first Vietnamese cookbook I discovered and bought many years ago.

    Will you be coming up to this year's Foodbuzz Festival?

  11. Sijeleng,
    No. Can't make it this year either. It would've been nice to meet you! Perhaps some day.