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Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam Paperback – May 1, 2010
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"An extraordinarily personal book." - Evan Kleiman --KCRW's Good Food, August 7, 2010
"Kim Fay has literally written the book on Vietnam (twice)." --NBC LA's Feast, August 4, 2010
"Kim captures the nugget of great food writing. Ingredients are important--yes--but context is so much more so." --Rambling Spoon, June 16, 2010
"Fay evokes her favorite dishes with language that lingers in the mind as beloved tastes linger on the palate." --Gastronomica, Spring 2011
In Communion, Fay takes readers on a more personal culinary journey. There are a handful of recipes, but the focus is on her delicious prose, which will leave the reader yearning for an authentic taste of Vietnam. --Library Journal, March 1, 2010
About the Author
Pacific Northwest native Kim Fay first traveled to Southeast Asia in 1991. She spent four years living in Vietnam and has traveled back frequently, writing about the region. As an expert on travel literature and Vietnam, she has been a guest speaker on NPR and has written for numerous publications, including Travel + Leisure. She is the creator and series editor of the To Asia With Love guidebooks. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
When I first discovered that book, I carried it with me everywhere and read it every chance I got--waiting at doctors' offices, at soccer practices, at traffic lights. A friend saw me with it and asked, "Doesn't that title frighten you?"
She was a woman who was substantially overweight; I was a woman who was constantly on a diet, but M.F.K. gave me an inkling of what food and eating could be I didn't discover that art until I went to Thailand where eating was an act of pleasure, not one of guilt, shame,and fear.
Although I am sure that Kim Fay's relationship with food was much less troubled than mine, it is quite clear from her book that she discovered how much immense pleasure came from good food, freshly prepared, and eaten in the company of friends, during her four years of living in Vietnam.
Missing this dimension to her daily life when she returned to the states, Kim returns to Vietnam with her photographer-sister to explore that country's food--its history, its preparation, its flavors, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. The result is a wonderful mixture of travel memoir, food literature, and cultural history, served up with a generous helping of humor and a number of tantalizing recipes.
Kim and her sister Julie are joined by Kim's friend Huong, a fashionable and opinionated woman with a stunningly healthy appetite and a talent for finding the best places to fulfill her ravenous desire for good food.Read more ›
But I can write a fair review.
And in fact I've waited months to do just that. Back in October, with days growing shorter and winds colder, Kim sent me a draft of her manuscript--double-spaced type on 8 ½ x 11 paper, no photos except a rough copy of the book's cover. But now I have the real thing, nearly 300 pages of intertwined essays and full-color photos taken by Kim's sister, photographer Julie Fay Ashborn. It is one of the heftiest, most beautiful food and travel books I've seen from Asia. (The type is a bit tiny--my parents would have trouble reading it--but the photos are big and bold.)
"I thought about how much better food tastes when it fits into a narrative." With this, Kim captures the nugget of great food writing. Ingredients are important--yes--but context is so much more so.
Communion doesn't simply tell us what Kim thought about the crispy fried eggplant she ate in Hoi An. Instead, it guides us through the life of Miss Vy, the restaurateur and instructor who opened her history to Kim. By the time we reach the recipe for that eggplant, "as delicate and flavorful as Miss Vy," we know all about the chef's upbringing, her family's post-war struggles through Doi Moi, and her thoughts on communism, poverty and sexism. In turn, I am all the hungrier for her food.Read more ›
Fay returned to the States not having learned to cook anything Vietnamese, but she was living in Los Angeles, as was Duyen, a sister from her Vietnamese family, so while inconvenient she was able, along with Duyen, to seek out and satiate her cravings for Vietnamese food. Fay grew hungry to learn how to cook Vietnamese food, but using cookbooks and taking classes in LA was not satisfying her, so she hatched a plan to return to Vietnam to learn how to cook Vietnamese food, but the ultimate goal was to become an expert on Vietnamese cuisine in all regions of the country. Ten years after first leaving Vietnam she returned, armed with a `bucket list' of foods, restaurants, and chefs. She brought along her sister as her food photographer, and a friend named Huong that she knew from her prior life in Vietnam who signed up as their interpreter, and the journey was on.
Communion is very helpfully broken out into chapters for each major city in Vietnam. From every city she shares at least one recipe, except for the city of Hue. This seemed odd, because in Hue they have a clam rice dish that Fay covets.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read in preparation for an upcoming trip thinking I would just learn a bit about the food of Vietnam. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Fpebbles
As a foodie living in Vietnam (and being ethnically Vietnamese), I was surprised at the depth of Communion. Read morePublished 22 months ago by JamesP
Well written and Easy to read. Great photos. I Could almost smell the food and feel the heat and humidity. A perfect book for a traveler and foodie!Published 23 months ago by Kim Ann Burdeshaw
This book was recommended to me when I share my desire to visit Vietnam. I love that the author shared her experience that centered around her culinary exploration. Read morePublished on April 22, 2014 by Nien-Hoa Lu
It was just a blog like book with only 10 recipees. I gave it as a gift to my son who loves to cook and travel but he was really disappointed. Read morePublished on April 17, 2013 by Terry Kennedy
We toured Vietnam from north to south just like the author. The book is not just a culinary journey, but a cultural and historical one as well. Read morePublished on March 23, 2013 by Linda Thomas