Eating pho in China is the equivalent to getting back with an ex just because the pain of longing for them hurts more than just forgetting them. The point is, just like ex’s, eating pho in China is a disappoint. But pho-natics in China will go to desperate measures to experience the illusive bowl of pho. Even though we know pho in China is wannabe pho, pho-natics will still eat it sometimes when our craving overwhelms our rational senses. We do it not for the food itself, but for the ideals of pho, such as:
- bonding with old friends and new friends
- defining one’s own individual and creative way for eating pho
- experiencing the collective love of pho
- engaging all of one’s bodily senses in a all consuming eating experience
- embracing the mythical food of the goddesses and gods
- putting fresh food into our human bodies
- celebrating the people who invented Pho (Northern Vietnamese)
- remembering the evils and wonders that come out of colonialism. (Before the French colonized Vietnam, Vietnamese peoople didn’t eat beef.)
- honoring the etymological roots of “PHỞ” as feu (fire) in French
I found myself craving desperately for a bowl of pho a few weeks ago, but where I live in China, there’s nothing that even comes close to Vietnamese cuisine, much less decent Chinese food. That is why you can only imagine my excitement when I was in Shanghai last week and two pho-angels Richard and Gregory, appeared into my life and suggested that we go to to Pho King. As expected, the pho did not even deserve to be called pho. But that didn’t matter because the conversation more than made up for what the pho was lacking. Even bad pho reminds you of the magicalness of the human connection.
Check out Gregory’s explanation for his pho strategy, a picture of Gregory’s pho bowl, and Richard squeezing his lime. Thank you Richard and Gregory for saving me with the miracle of pho! You both brought back so many memories that I almost pho-reaked out with pho-antasies!
So if you find yourself craving for a bowl of pho in China, don’t be embarrassed if you step into a Vietnamese restaurant. We at Fuck Yeah Pho will not judge you. We welcome your pictures of des-pho-ration as long as you tell us your story.
While I am on this topic, if you live and China and want to eat something that is equally orgasmic, unforgettable, and addictive bowl as a bowl of pho in Vietnam or at a restaurant in a Vietnamese immigrant community in USA, then eat Hui lamb soup (Yáng Ròu Pào Mó 羊肉泡馍) made by Hui Muslims. Go to Xian or go to the one standing Hui restaurant called 西城区白云观街1号 on the Line 1 Mù Xī Dì 木樨地站 stop. I took a few friends there over the summer and they were more than pleased. Ayman Shamma took some great photos and I re-blooged his recounting of the miracle of Hui lamb soup.
When done right, the bowl should look like the soup in this picture. I love Hui lamb soup because it’s a very time-consuming, social, intellectual, and embodied eating process. There’s a lot of sharing involved, lots of soup eating strategy, and of course lots of hand reaching and picking. With pho you use your hands to rip up the vegetable into smaller pieces while with with Hui lamb soup you use your hands to rip up the bread into the smallest piece possible. Both types of soups are best eaten with people you care about and don’t mind slurping around with. And eating Hui lamb soup doesn’t replace pho, but it is like finding a new best friend who you know will be equally loyal to you as long as you keep calling them.