Victoria Huynh is a Vietnamese-American writer and student at Brown University. Her creative and community commitments are rooted in refugee histories, ancestral knowledge, and intergenerational healing. She enjoys cooking, drawing, and being with her chosen and blood family. You can read her most recent writing in Catapult (link forthcoming).
What will you be presenting on? I will be telling stories about bittermelon: a plant that circulated across Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the monsoon trade and has become an integral part of foods across cultures. My stories center around Vietnamese refugee gardening and how bittermelon represents homeland memory for displaced peoples, and the swallowing / passing of one's hardship as a new year begins. I will also share examples of how bittermelon helps Black and brown diasporic peoples remember our relationships to the land and to each other, which have existed long before colonialism and white supremacy.
Best piece of advice you ever got about cooking: A refugee elder I met would always say that in cooking, you have to "bỏ cái tâm hồn mình vô mới có kết quả", or put your entire heart/spirit into the work in order to see good results.
If you could only eat one meal forever, it would be: For practical reasons, probably dim sum if the "one meal" allowed me to have several small and good dishes as option.
Favorite food: Banh bot loc: a translucent shrimp dumpling wrapped in banana leaves
Recommended reading: “Access to land contributes to healing and self-determination” by Lan Dinh
Best meals: The fresh sangak bread at a Persian bakery in my hometown; my dad's rice porridge with ox tail and black beans.
Food you’d like to try: Indian bittermelon curry