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Tết

Tết is the single biggest celebration of the year for the Viets. Similar to local culture here in Singapore, it is the time when those live faraway would go back home to visit their hometown, parents, siblings and relatives, the big Union.

Reunion dinner is an important event to us, the women in the family because that’s when we have to roll up our sleeves and cook, like a lot of cooking. For me, the Prima Donna who didn’t even washed my own clothes most of the time I was there (mama did it), that was the first test for commercial cooking (lol). I remember spending the whole few days to prepare the ingredients, and the whole actual day cooking for many visitors. That was the only time I had to cook for real back home. However, it was still nothing compared to the amount of cooking I did at Que, but once in a while, I did think about it for some good measures because once in a while some would ask where I picked up cooking. Like, three years ago, I had this kind of, you know, not eye opening experience, but eyes wide open in horror when starting this business. 

Before the last big single event, the reunion dinner, we also had to prepare for many things, fruit display for the altar, flower display, spring cleaning, buy new clothes, make Bánh Chưng in time for the reunion dinner, prepare the many kgs of leeks and onions for pickling. The whole preparation and celebration easily spread out over more than a month. 

Credit : Manh Nghiem – Unsplash

Twenty years away, many things might have changed. But I remember the streets filled with flowers, fruits and Tet’s goodies. I remember the very distinct smell of Tet made of all these. The nights running around the narrow dusty moist streets choosing the perfect pots of flowers with my mom and sis after the crowd had left, or the perfect watermelon for display. It was something I would remember with very fond memories, especially since I left Vietnam.

Written by LG – 2021

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Chợ làng

Some of my earliest memory was following grandma to the village’s Chợ (wet market). The streets lividly were lined with fresh flowers from nearby farms and vendor’s stalls.

Chợ was the center of all activities in the village. That was where farmers sold their produce, villagers met their friends and relatives. Back then, everything was grown out of villager’s garden. Most things especially meat and egg were scared. Grandma would pick a small slice of meat, usually pork, some spices from the dry stall nearby, and plenty of colorful fresh herbs. She sometimes would bring her own chicken eggs to trade with neighbor for beef when someone had extra.

Close to 40 years gone by, grandma had long passed, many things have changed. I still fondly remember sitting on one side of the 𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐧𝐡 𝐠á𝐧𝐡 (carrier, 2nd picture) among the herbs chewing on the peanut candy bought by grandma looking at things for the first time beyond grandma’s garden. That was one of the best and purest joy.

The daily trip to the market was very much anticipated by me and my younger sister whom I had to fight with for the seat on grandma’s special 𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐧𝐡 𝐠á𝐧𝐡. The experience has reminded us how food has become not just a life’s necessity, but also bring people together and build community, be it in a remote northern Viet village, or a modern cosmopolitan society.
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✍️ and 📸 by: @lg.and.camera
2nd Photo credit: https://cand.com.vn/Phong-su-Tieu-diem/Don-ganh-Vat-dung-than-dieu-cua-nguoi-Viet-Nam-i558440/

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𝗛𝗼𝘄 “𝗥&𝗗” is 𝗱𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗤𝘂ê

As you could see, we have new dishes pretty often, usually they are something nobody ever saw or heard before, especially in Viet cuisine. Many are curious where they come from. To answer that, we like to give an example of how making coffee was first done at Quê.

So we kinda settled into Somerset by then. Coffee powder was ready for like few months ago, but @elgyatque was not ready. No time for even googling. There were simply too many requests for Viet coffee because it needed no introduction. The meal is incomplete without that cup of Viet drink.

LG got creative so she suggested customers to go buy coffee at the many coffee houses in Somerset, and 111Somerset alone to consume at Quê. It was a clear NO from all customers.

One fine day, a gentleman insisted on having Viet coffee despite LG said no. At the end, she gave in, but with ꜰᴜʟʟ ᴅɪꜱᴄʟᴀɪᴍᴇʀ she has never made Viet coffee for the last, errr, 25 years? (lol). Before that she didn’t know either. Customer gave a nod. So the first coffee was made on the spot with @elgyatQue just dumped an unknown amount of coffee into the 𝐩𝐡𝐢𝐧, and just add in another unknown amount of milk and water 😂. To top it up, she gave some wrong instruction to the customer when passing the coffee🙊. Customer came back to drink coffee the next lunch, so we guess that was 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲 how Việt coffee was supposed to be made 🙌🏾😝

So yea, that’s how R&D is being done at Quê. You guys can be so assured that’s the way to do it, cos that’s how some of our most popular dishes were born here. Will share more in later posts 😬.

That was the first time though, now everything is being measured and weighted so it’s less fun. But food should be this fun *hi five*