I started teaching 8th grade social studies again this week with a whole new bunch of kids.Â On the first day I try to get to know the kids and hopefully make some early connections that willÂ make the class run smoothly.Â This one kid’s name is Sue (some names may have been changed to make the author less creepy).Â She is Vietnamese and there is no English spoken at her house where her parents, her three brothers and her grandparents live.Â We started talking and I told her how much IÂ loved Pho (rhymes with the), which is a great Vietnamese noodle soup with beef or chicken parts and many different combinations of vegetables and condiments.Â Sue’s grandmother is apparently an amazing cook, daily preparing authentic Vietnamese dinners for Sue and her crew.Â I also learned that when her grandmother still lived in Vietnam,Â she ran a food cart that specialized in Pho.Â We had a long, very nice conversationÂ about food and she offered to ask her grandmother if she would make some Pho for me.Â I was floored at how sweet this kid was and also psyched to taste some old school Vietnamese soup.
Confident that Sue and I were getting along swimmingly, I sat at her table later in the class and politely asked her and her partner how their work was coming along.Â ” Um, can you please leave? I’m not about to have someone staring at me all class” was the first and last thing she said. Â I know a little bit about 8th grade kids (the girls are some of the nastiest people I’ve ever met) so I know the crazy levels of WTF? behavior they’re capable of. Â But still, I was a little miffed at her brattiness and pissed that I played the Pho card so soon in this case.
Flash to this morning when I showed up at my desk….this beautifully woven handle bag, about the size of a large lunch bag, tricked out with cool Asian art, sitting on my computer. Â Inside were four items…a plastic container of homemade Vietnamese beef stock ( I could smell the cinnamon and star anise), a bag of perfectly cooked vermicelli noodles, another bag filled with mushrooms, chopped scallions, cooked sliced beef, cilantro, thai basil, and little containers of sriracha, and lastly a note that read, “For Mr. B….My Grandma made this special for you last night…Just put it all in the micawave (sp)… See you second period, Sue.”
Here’s a really good Pho recipe that you can make without the help of an awesome Vietnamese grandma.