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.