Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

I picked this up through Bookmooch because it sounded interesting. Frankly, anything involving food is interesting to me. I read cookbooks for fun.

This is a memoir, an account of Nguyen's escape from Saigon to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her dad made the decision to flee, in order to allow his 2 daughters a future that didn't involve bombings and war. They ended up in Michigan with grandma Noi and eventually, a stepmother Rosa and step sister Crissy. This is Nguyen's story - told through the lens of the 80's and the food of 3 cultures: her Vietnamese heritage kept alive by her grandma, her desire to be fully American and eat at McDonalds, and her stepmothers Mexican heritage, complete with tamales and sopa.

The 80's were an embarrassing decade, I know, I grew up in it. And I got a little secondhand embarrassment from reading this book. If only because I pretty much did the same things and tried to wear the neon and poof my hair up to the sky as well.

Nguyen was shy and "not pretty" so she kept to books. I related well, my best books were the Little House books and the descriptions of food from Ingalls kept me entranced as much as it did Nguyen.

Nguyen reconciles her childhood, understanding now all of the things that she couldn't grasp back then, like most people do when they grow up. It's a fairly quick read but satisfying...like McDonalds.
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