In a celebratory mood

I like making blog posts when I’m simply happy, because it happens rarely enough. And with the AP just now predicting that the Democrats won the Senate as well as the House, it’s a good time to be happy.

Dinner tonight was lovely. On the spur of the moment this morning, I decided to offer a Vietnamese dinner to celebrate Hubert Vo‘s reelection; I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since 2004, when he won office against a sleazy white Republican incumbent against all odds, and he’s done great things since then. Because of various schedule conflicts, it ended up being a nice intimate dinner, just four of us, but the food was delicious and the conversation was fantastic. I’ve been down for the last few days, for various reasons, and for the first time in a while I wholeheartedly enjoyed myself. I’ve been a dutiful student for the past few days, too, so I didn’t even have to feel that guilty about taking an evening off.

I prepared ingredients for make-your-own Vietnamese fresh spring rolls (technically summer rolls, but Cali’s, my ultimate standard for the Platonic Vietnamese Restaurant, calls them spring rolls, so there). To those who haven’t made them yourselves, I highly recommend them as a fun group activity, easy to prepare, with deliciously addictive results. You take hard rice paper wrappers, soften them in hot water, and fill them with lettuce, rice vermicelli noodles, julienned vegetables, herbs, and protein. Today, the options included green onions, carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro, fried marinated tofu, and shrimp. Finally, you wrap up the roll, which seals itself nicely, dip it in spicy peanut sauce, and devour it. Wrapping them into a neat cylinder is the hardest part, but initial imperfect attempts still taste like crisp-textured, bright-flavored heaven!

Afterwards, we drank intense Vietnamese coffee, ate pomegranate seeds, and talked for what ended up being over three hours. It was one of the best dinner conversations I’ve had in ages, ranging from folk magic and demons to internalized taboos and polyamory. Everyone there was intelligent, courteous, and open to wide-ranging discussion – a rare combination.

Some days I love being in grad school.


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