March 23, 2014

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. Bandhobi

The surprised restaurant staff. Bandhobi

The girl. Bandhobi

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.

Family Mart in Vietnam

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.

Movie Food Korea

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The reader I was in one of my favourite street side food store enjoying Goi Tai Heo (pig ear salad). Across the street, I saw a woman slow down her bicycle.