Don recorded our conversation for a radio documentary, which he
recently aired this week. It’s always strange to listen to yourself on
the radio (stranger yet to watch yourself on TV) , but Don did an
excellent job of editing. I tend to talk a lot when it comes to
Vietnamese food and cooking. Listen here.
Quick plug for Vietnamese grub guru, and author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Andrea Nguyen. She’s started a blog called Viet World Kitchen. I wanted to know why she has decided to start a blog, so I asked her a few questions,
It seems to me your website is pretty well known as a Vietnamese food resource – it’s almost always the one I refer to – and your first cookbook was very well received. So why bother starting a blog? What does it add?
I’ve shied away from blogging because the website was plenty to manage. I built the site myself and it has grown into a sizable resource for quality information on Vietnamese food and cooking. But since the book came out, I just haven’t enough time to post and organize content on the Vietworldkitchen.com site. I’m not a computer geek nor programer so I set the site up in a somewhat cumbersome way. It’s not as efficient as the blog interface, though the site lets me post mega pages like the one on pho or Vietnamese herbs. I’m keeping the site and the blog is a companion to it.
Aside from the time and technological factors, I started blogging to let others in on the action. I’d for people to build content with me, and to have conversation, whether that’s with me or other Vietnamese food enthusiasts. Blogging is much more interactive.
I’d been thinking about blogging for a while, partly because a number of authors have started doing so, like Dorie Greenspan. My friend Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com said that it’s the way to go if you’ve got something to say and you want to get the word out. And, my aims are just that — to inform and inspire people. I wrote "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" because I had something to say, something I felt that was of value to the public, and the website and blog help to pave a longer road.
How often do you hope to post?
At least once a week. It was hard at first, but I’m getting the swing of it!
I mentioned to you a while back that you should consider using a digital camera and putting together a Vietnamese cooking show from your own kitchen, doesn’t have to be anything flash, just fun and informative and hosting the video on YouTube, Kyte.tv or Vimeo – Is this a possibility down the line?
Yes, you and my husband Rory are itching for me to buy that video camera! Thanks for lighting the fire under my feet. I think Rory is researching video cameras right now! There are lots of techniques that I’d love to offer folks.
I seem to remember you have plans for another cookbook, will you use the blog to let people into the writing and cooking process behind the book? You know… the story behind the book kinda thing?
"Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" just came out in October and I do need to focus on the next project. I’ve just closed on two major articles that are coming out in the August/September issue of Saveur, and along with my teaching and speaking schedules, the next book simmers in the back of my brain. I’ve thought of doing a blog on the next book, but that could be distracting. Researching and writing are intense for me. For example, when recipe developing, I prepare the same dish 4 or 5 times to polish the instructions just right so that I communicate all the crucial elements to readers. Okay, I’m a perfectionist, and that’s something hard to let go of. I feel a great responsibility to readers and don’t want to let them down. I can’t promise anything at this time but you’re such the provocateur, Graham.
Do you keep an eye on other Vetnamese food bloggers like Playing with my food, Food Lover’s Journey, Sticky Rice – and other food bloggers, not just the Vietnamese focussed ones – will you be linking out to them? Do you read any other food blogs? If so, which ones?
Yes, I’ve checked out Playing with My Food — in Washington state, no? Sticky Rice is good too. I’m not a daily blog reader, I’m more casual. Yep, once I figure out how to link up to the various interesting blogs, I will do just that. On the main Vietworldkitchen.com site, I link up to blogs like yours. In my research, I read blogs to keep up on what’s going on, and then cross reference with other materials. I pop into Michael Ruhlman’s blog, which is fun and check in with 101cookbooks.com occasionally too.
And are you going to Vietnam any time soon and will you post from there???? Please…
Now that I have the blog, I guess I’ll have to blog wherever I go, huh? Of course, when in the Motherland, I will blog. I don’t have immediate plans to return to VN, but plan on doing so in the next 6 to 9 months.
Just a quick note to say Andrea Nguyen, the author of Into the Vietnamese KItchen, has very kindly stepped into the comment box to discuss here latest book. She’s keeping an eye on it. If you’ve got a question for Andrea about Vietnamese cooking or her rather spledid book (I’m slowly getting thru it…), go and have a natter here. Big up to Andrea – it’s not every author who would engage her audience so directly, in depth and politely 🙂
Andrea Nguyen, who runs the excellent Vietworldkitchen website, recently published her first book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. It’s a weighty, very comprehensive, highly detailed delve into Vietnamese cooking. Having said that, there are a few dishes, like Hu Tieu and Bun mam, missing. I’m guessing this was done on purpose. Before you know it you’ll find ‘Into another Vietnamese kitchen’ on the bookshop racks. Andrea very kindly asked the publishers to send me a copy. As I’ve said before I do get offered all sorts of stuff thru the blog, most of which I turn it down. However, noting the contents of this book and my own passing interest in Vietnamese edibles, I was never gonna turn down the offer of a copy 🙂 It took three days – from California to France – now that’s efficiency. Wonder how long it’d take in the opposite direction… I’m busy thumbing it. I’m already tempted enough to have a bash at Cha Ca La Vong. And just looking at this page has me screaming for a real banh mi…. I’ll have more on this tome when I’ve digested. And cooked… Yup. Rather than review it. I (think) I’m gonna cook from it which, when I thik of it, is reviewing it, innit?