How Food Blogs Helped Define My Identity : NPR


Bun Bo Hue is NPR editor Suzanne Nuyen’s favorite dish. It is the origin of the name of her blog “Bun Bo Bae”.

Suzanne Nguyen/Bung Bovey


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Suzanne Nguyen/Bung Bovey


Bun Bo Hue is NPR editor Suzanne Nuyen’s favorite dish. It is the origin of the name of her blog “Bun Bo Bae”.

Suzanne Nguyen/Bung Bovey

I love to eat, but giving food to others is my love language.

When I moved to Washington DC after graduating college in 2017, I left all my friends behind. The best way to make new friends and relieve loneliness was to treat new acquaintances to a sumptuous home-cooked meal. I hate to brag, but my food is very good. Soon, everyone started asking me for recipes, and in 2019 my Vietnamese food blog Bun Bo Bae was born.

In retrospect, I may have been destined to start a food blog. I spent most of my childhood in the kitchen with my mother. When she was a toddler, I used to sit and watch her cook. My sous chef job started by handing her her ingredients. In no time, I was weighing, steaming, sautéing, and making my way to becoming a master in the kitchen. I went to college before learning to cook my mother’s best.

In 2015, I studied abroad in France. I lived alone — Really Alone – for the first time in my life. I didn’t have a roommate, a dorm, or a cafeteria. Since I was alone, I was very homesick. So I started calling her mother and asking for recipes for my favorite dishes.

Beef shakes are now one of my favorite dishes to make. I learned it from my mother, but over the years I feel I have perfected the recipe and made it my own.

Suzanne Nguyen/Bung Bovey


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Suzanne Nguyen/Bung Bovey


Beef shakes are now one of my favorite dishes to make. I learned it from my mother, but over the years I feel I have perfected the recipe and made it my own.

Suzanne Nguyen/Bung Bovey

Apparently my mother doesn’t have the recipe. She never gave me the dimensions of any dish. That wasn’t how she learned to cook. She too grew up in the kitchen with her mother and her grandmother passed on her knowledge orally. Now it’s my turn. My mother taught me how to cook intuitively and how to “measure with the heart.” She learned to cook by tasting and feeling food rather than following strict measurements.

Bun Bo Bae was originally a place for me to write what I learned.I didn’t want to know the secret knowledge behind cooking like my mother Bunboef (the spicy beef and pork noodle soup that gave the blog its name) or my dad’s thịt băm sốt cà chua (A versatile pork-based tomato sauce.) Once oral tradition is over, it will one day disappear. I wanted to write down in detail all the advice I was given so that people could continue to make these dishes as authentic as possible.

I’ve been experimenting more lately. I’m not too strict with myself about preserving and recreating Vietnamese food as I remember eating it. We use seasonal ingredients and substitute substitutes when they are not found.some recipes like mine Borak rack, Shake the beef and feel completely your own. As my food blog and follower count grew, so did my confidence in the kitchen.

Thanks to Bun Bo Bae, my confidence in my work has also increased. I knew I was a good cook, but I didn’t know how to build a website, take pictures of my meals, or even arrange them to look delicious. I taught myself social media and web building, and the skills helped him get his job at NPR. So one of my recipes was served at the Sound Bites cafeteria. I once hosted a cooking class for my colleagues to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.

My blog gave me a space to write about things I love on days when the news felt too depressing. It has connected me with countless new internet friends. Most importantly, writing for Bun Bo Bae taught me that celebrating Vietnamese-American culture doesn’t have to completely recreate your parents’ traditions. It’s about mixing what I’ve been taught with my own experience to create something completely new.

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