I’m very happy. I just passed a milestone, one that brought an unexpected sense of wonderment, and it reminded me that some happinesses and yearnings long relegated to memory are worth going back and looking for again. Why not? I’m talking about things big and small, even things like dinner.
I never thought I’d have beef seven ways again, and that was all OK. I discovered this traditional Vietnamese feast in Chinatown in the ’90s, and though it was the first thing I looked for when I got to Saigon in 1996, it never came my way. I remembered it for its freshness, for its light and smoky flavors, and for the discovery that a cuisine more known for herbs and noodles and fish sauce could revel in a feast of beef seven ways.
I’d forgotten all this. So the strength of my reaction when Mrs. Le of Pig and the Lady mentioned beef seven ways a few months ago took me by surprise.
What?! Beef seven ways? You mean bo bay mon? You make bo bay mon???
Mrs. Le stared at me. She nodded.
When?? When can you make bo bay mon??
Don’t worry, she said. I’ll do a popup. I’m sure.
Well, people, it was worth waiting for. Pig and the Lady and Mrs. Le, mom of Pig chef Andrew Le, staged a popup dinner of beef seven ways from Mrs. Le’s Vietnamese childhood this past weekend, naming it Lady and the Pig’s Bo Bay Mon. (In Vietnamese, bo = beef, bay = seven and mon = dish.) My happiness at reuniting with the memory was magnified by Mrs. Le’s happiness in presenting it. This was a milestone for her too. She suffered a stroke a year or so ago, affecting her walking and talking and strength, and after all these months of therapy and work and will, this was her comeback.
I’m very happy. I never thought bo bay mon could be this good.