Dao moved to Sofia from Saigon almost two years ago. Sorely missing the foods from home, she began trying to cook her favorite recipes, a task that proved incredibly difficult at first. In Sofia—land of filled pastries and stuffed vegetables, chilled soups, and grilled skewered meats—ingredients like rice noodles, tamarind, and marinated soy beans are hard to come by, even in the country's capital. Dao opts to grow as much as possible herself, covering her small porch in clay pots, small trellises, and vessels for dozens of different herbs and vegetables. When I visit, the dark green leaves of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) are soaking up the warm sun. Thai basil and cilantro plants line the bannister, and luffa gourds—of which Dao is particularly proud—climb one of the thick wooden dowels. Nearby, Sofia's biggest and busiest market, Zhenski Pazar ("The Women's Market"), offers the best chance of finding what else she needs.