Food and nostalgia
There is a 2009 Korean movie called Bandhobi - story of an unlikely friendship between a Korean teenager and a Bangladeshi immigrant worker. I like a scene in this movie as I can identify with the character. The girl when she misses her Bangladeshi friend, visits a South Asian restaurant. To the surprise of the staff, orders several dishes and proceeds to eat them like a native.
The girl, ordering several dishes including one that is not in the menu.
The surprised restaurant staff.
Here is the clip
Today, when I spotted a Family Mart in Saigon, I walked into it. I bought Oden — a Japanese winter dish containing radish, fish cakes, boiled eggs.
These are usually skewered on a stick and dipped in a spicy soy-based broth. Eating Oden takes me back to those freezing days in Japan. On our way walking from the train station to some place, we would always stop by a Family Mart. The hot oden is always a welcome respite.
Often in random cities, you will find me at a random ethnic food place — a Korean place in Phnom Penh, a Vietnamese cafe in Tokyo, a Russian restaurant in Bangkok, or a Sichuan place in Manila. More than a craving for a particular food, I think I end up in these places because I am missing the people or the conversations from that country.