By Lolis Eric Elie
The Vietnamese have made New Orleans their own. Thanks in large part to the efforts of the late archbishop Philip Hannan, thousands of Vietnamese men and women have come to south Louisiana in the years since the war. They have formed enclaves in several different sections of the metro area, most famously in Versailles, the section of eastern New Orleans served by Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic church and its affiliated community development organization.
New Orleans is a logical place for the Vietnamese to settle. Vietnam is largely surrounded by water; fishing is an important part of the livelihood, and fish are an important part of the diet.
When Sonny (Michiel Huisman) falls in love with Linh (Hong Chau), he gets a sense of the challenges facing the fishing community. He also gets a taste of Vietnamese food. Though at one point he tells Linh, he's tired of eating pho, the emblematic Vietnamese soup, he doesn't say anything about the beef and vermicelli noodle salad that is also a staple on Vietnamese tables.
We have our own delicious recipe for this dish in our forthcoming cookbook, Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans. Even though the book won't be published until spring, here's a foretaste: