Getting Ready for Tet

| February 11, 2007 | 7 Comments
  • 7 Comments

With only one week left before the Lunar Year 4705 begins, there’s still a lot to prepare. I need to finish everything by February 18, the beginning of a particularly auspicious Year of the Boar. Some of the more important items on my TO DO list…

- Scrub, dust, mop, and wash everything from floor to ceiling.

- Invite my first visitor of the year. Alex (my smart, successful, super-nice doctor friend) moved to L.A., so I’ll have to find someone else to carry luck and prosperity into my home.

- Prepare banh chung from Andrea’s hardcore, traditional recipe in her new cookbook, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. It’s four pages long and includes instructions on how to make your own mold. We’ve already exchanged some notes on our favorite techniques and ingredients (remember the pork fat!) as well as some major no-no’s (forget the green food coloring). If I’m feeling flush, I might even try making the more difficult shaped banh tet.

- Fill every room with flowers. Stop at the SF Wholesale Flower Mart for good prices on quince blossoms, forsythia boughs, bright red gladioli, narcissus bulbs, and bamboo.

- Call my mom to ask for her recipe for caramel daikon pickles.

- Buy new clothes for the new year.

- Pick up the polymer plates, mix up some pink and red inks, and finish printing our Tet cards.

- Track down one of those mommy pig sweet buns at a Chinatown bakery.

- Relax and enjoy the start of another wonderful year!

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Category: asian food and drink, holidays and traditions

About the Author ()

Thy Tran writes literary nonfiction about food, the rituals of the kitchen, and the many ways eating and cooking both connect and separate communities around the world. She co-authored the award-winning guide, Kitchen Companion, and her work has appeared in numerous other books, including Asia in the San Francisco Bay Area: A Cultural Travel Guide and Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Fine Cooking and Saveur. A recipient of a literary grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Thy is currently working on a collection of essays about how food changes in families across time and place. Though trained as a professional chef, she works on cookbooks by day, then creates literary chapbooks by night. An old letterpress and two cabinets of wood and lead type occupy a corner of her writing studio, for she is as committed to the art and craft of bookmaking as she is to the power of words themselves. In addition to writing, editing, teaching and printing, Thy remains active in local food justice and global food sovereignty movements. Visit her website, wanderingspoon.com, to learn more about her culinary adventures.
  • shuna fish lydon

    This reminds me a little of a to-do list before Passover. But what, pray tell, is “Tet”?

  • Thy Tran

    Tet is the Vietnamese name for the lunar new year. Basically, it’s very much similar to the Chinese New Year, with our own little spin on things.

  • Porcini

    Where can you buy the mommy pig sweet bun??? Thanks!!!

  • Porcini

    Where can you get the mommy pig sweet bun? Thanks!!!

  • Thy Tran

    Hi “Little Pigs”: I first found those very adorable buns years ago at a bakery in Chinatown, San Francisco. You’re going to hate me, b/c I can’t remember the name. But I definitely know where it is: On the south side of Broadway between Stockton and Grant. Does anyone else know the name of this bakery? They make them every year. I’ve also seen similar porcine rolls at other large Chinese bakeries, but that one on Broadway had the prettiest pigs. They’re often filled with sweetness, like lotus seed paste, and they last forever. I actually never got around the eating mine because it was just too cute. Happy hunting!

  • Andrea Nguyen

    If you want more information on the Viet spin on Lunar New Year (food, traditions, myths, etc.), peruse the Vietworldkitchen.com
    homepage. Gotta get cleaning and cooking…

  • Jennifer Maiser

    Those pig buns are out of control. I love them!

    It was so fun to be in Vietnam during the lead-up to Tet. As the days went by, the country was working itself into a greater and greater state of celebration.