"I don't want to cook like my mother used to, because she doesn't even cook that way anymore," says cookbook author Andrea Nguyen. "We all have an idea of what tradition looks like, but with this book, I wanted to liberate the home cook in America." She adds, "It's okay to use lemongrass paste from a tube instead of chopping your own—it doesn't make you a bad person."
In her sixth and latest book, Vietnamese Food Any Day, Nguyen hammers home what is (but shouldn't necessarily be) a bold statement: that anyone can make Vietnamese food any day, anywhere. She contextualizes this argument in the experience of newly arrived Vietnamese refugees, like her own family, during the 1970s. The book's preface, entitled "Seeds of My Supermarket Obsession," spotlights just how Vietnamese it is to use foreign ingredients and cooking techniques while staying true to the integrity of traditional flavors.