comfort and nostalgia

Xôi gà.

While cleaning the pantry yesterday I found a small sack of short grain glutinous/sticky rice, about a cup and a half that was probably left over from last Thanksgiving. I soaked them overnight, and with some left over chicken breast I used for soup, they both ended up becoming a scrumptious lunch for the boys.

They savored every morsel of the rice and chicken.

Then I told them about my childhood memories, that I once savored this treat on rare occasion while growing up in Vietnam. I remember that there was a lady who lived deep in the mountain, and raised chicken of her own. Every afternoon she carried a big bamboo basket of xôi gà, covered by banana leaves, down to the neighborhood where I grew up.

As soon as we heard her sweet and enticing calling, xôi gà đây! (sticky rice and chicken!) children of different height and weight gathered around her awaiting turn with their allowance in hand. The chicken was painted in the color of crimson red (probably from the extracted annatto seeds, there were plenty of them in the mountain) and the gooey sauce wrapping the sticky rice, running down from the top to the base of the plate.

Then the xôi lady sprinkled some fried shallots and dropped in a few spoonful of glossy mỡ hành (green scallion wilted in melted pork fat) just to add the extra factor to heighten the flavors, and my salivation. My favorite pieces of chicken morsel, though, were the offal parts, e.g. gizzards, the young unborn chicken eggs, and the intestines.

I wish I had a camera and a blog back then. But that was in the 80s, camera was a luxury afforded only by the wealthy (and taking photos of food was probably too frivolous!), and a blog was a non-existence.

My childhood in Vietnam was full of great memories, particularly about food. I think one of the reasons food stood out so much and in a very significant way, was because we were so poor, so we treasured every piece of food available to us. Hence, I ingrained in my senses of what we ate, and carried with me across the ocean at the age of 12.


7 thoughts on “comfort and nostalgia

    1. Oh good chị. I don’t eat a lot of sticky rice bbut when i crave for some I usually have xôi gà. I like xôi lạp xưởng too but O is a muslim so can’t have pork in thebhouse.

  1. Hai anh em cưng quá đi. Tụi nhỏ nhà này thì lại mê xôi gấc hay xôi vò á em iu.

    Hồi nhỏ thì xôi gà ng` ta bán ngoài chợ là món xa xỉ rồi á, hổng có tiền mua ăn sáng đâu ờ. Sáng toàn ăn cơm nguội hay thỉnh thoảng ăn bánh mì của mẹ thôi 😉

    1. Tui biết tui biết cùng hoàgn cảnh mà. Nhưng chổ tui ở có nhiều chùa lắm nên đói thù hay lên chùa ăn chực hay lên núi bắt thú rừng.

      Nghĩ lại thấy tuổi thơ mình đầy ngoạn mục.

      1. thì tui cũng ở gần chùa, nhưng mấy khi lên trển ăn đâu nà. 🙂 Còn vụ lên núi thì có đi thiệt á, nhưng ông Ngoạ ivà mấy cậu bẫy & săn thú rừng, còn tui toàn đi hái hoa trái về ăn á 🙂

        Ôi, tuổi thơ ơi là tuổi thơ, vá hoài không xong á.

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