My first “slicer” lunch was today and it was un-pho-gettable! My students eagerly came up to the classroom with their trays of food or lunch bags overflowing with food and tons of ideas for great slices, way more that any of us were expecting. As we all settled into our space, almost immediately the stories started spilling out. One student was so excited to get up the classroom, he forgot his lunch! Another student across from me cautiously and quietly ate her traditional Japanese meal listening to others around her. Tales about recess, parents leaving town, games in PE, and the food we were eating immediately filled up our classroom.
This was the first time my students had eaten lunch with me this year and they were so intrigued with my food. I had brought in my first attempt at Vietnamese Pho, it was pretty good, especially for my first try but I couldn’t stop eating it. As they started asking me questions, my mind drifted to the most incredible pho soup that I was lucky enough to stumble upon in Ho Chi Minh City. It was the kind of place that you wake up thinking about and can’t seem to get there fast enough. A nondescript shop inside someone’s home. Locals sharing stories on the street, folks sipping on coffee, and right beyond our breakfast table was a pile of shoes that belonged to the family.
Ah, but the pho. The fresh herbs piled high, the peppers so spicy you only need one (maybe two) and the smell that engulfs your senses as soon as they place the giant bowl in front of you. As I was breathing in and smiling as I thought of this meal, a child in passing nonchalantly says, “My mom makes the best pho soup. We have to grind bones and stuff.”
“What?! Really?” Now, this shouldn’t shock me as his family is from Vietnam, but I had never shared my love for pho with him before so he probably figured it was no big deal. Now, this starts us on an incredible conversation about the HUGE container she uses for her soup, his family’s cafe in Vietnam, my experiences in Ho Chi Minh, and our shared love for pho. It quickly became clear to my students and myself that stories are truly everywhere if we just take a moment to notice them, smell them, or taste them. I can only imagine the delicious soup his mother makes for his family and the stories she must have. Perhaps someday, we will all sit down together and share some stories over a bowl of homemade pho.