Books, Food, Lists, Recipes, Reviews

Mango and Peppercorns: A Wonderful Combination

I love books that are a mish-mash of things; like historical fiction where we have a story intertwined with a history lesson; or thrillers and/or romances where the protagonist works in a specific industry and I learn so much about how that industry works in the process of reading the book. And well, the list can go on. Which leads me to today’s book —Mango and Peppercorns — a memoir with recipes thrown in throughout the book.

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Mango and Peppercorns

Title: Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream
Author: Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen with Elisa Ung 
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Memoir/Non-fiction/Food/Cookbooks
Publisher: Chronicle Books (March 16, 2021)
Source: Digital review copy from NetGalley and Edelweiss

Description: Through powerful narrative, archival imagery, and 20 Vietnamese recipes that mirror their story, Mango & Peppercorns is a unique contribution to culinary literature.

In 1975, after narrowly escaping the fall of Saigon, pregnant refugee and gifted cook Tung Nguyen ended up in the Miami home of Kathy Manning, a graduate student and waitress who was taking in displaced Vietnamese refugees. This serendipitous meeting evolved into a decades-long partnership, one that eventually turned strangers into family and a tiny, no-frills eatery into one of the most lauded restaurants in the country.

My Thoughts

A book that takes on a fascinating journey that tells tales of friendships, family, and of course, food. We travel back and forth in time, and listen to this story as told from three perspectives: that of Tung Ngyuen, a Vietnamese refugee and for me, the main protagonist of this memoir; of Kathy Manning, an American who sponsored and hosted Tung; and that of Lyn, Tung’s daughter.

First the memoir part

This book shows us that food can transcend borders, languages, and hearts. Flavors speak their own language, and it is one that is universal. I love how this story shows, with each chapter and each recipe, that food binds us all in its own wonderful way. It brings us together, regardless of who we are and where we are from; just like it did with Tung and Kathy; and with all those people who they fed through their restaurant.

I loved reading the story of Tung’s journey from Vietnam to America; of using food to communicate when spoken language was a barrier; and of building a family and community around food. Food in this book, and in Tung and Kathy’s story, is not only a language, but also their means of survival against all odds. I loved reading how they worked together, despite obvious differences and many mish-mashups, to achieve success; and they did so, each by knowing their own strengths and using them to the best extent.

Then the recipes

I had no idea about this award winning Miami restaurant until I read this book. And I was glad to find out more about how it came to be. Now it is a legend that Miami residents sorely miss. But this book allows those who miss the food, and the readers of the book, to try out some of the most popular recipes from the restaurant.

Considering I am vegetarian, the recipes (most of them) are not ones I can use for myself. But I am glad that the ones I can use are my favorite types of food — desserts!!! But based on all I have read and heard about Tung’s cooking and the famed restaurant, each recipe is worth its weight in – well, all the wonderful things..

I am yet to try the recipes but the one I do want to try first is the flan with ginger, followed by the bread pudding (or maybe just that vanilla sauce included for the pudding!)

And the Rest

The book also includes photographs that give additional glimpses into their lives.

In Summary

A wonderful story of, as I mentioned earlier, family, friendships, and food, as well as the universal language of food. A great book for those who enjoy stories of resilience, cookbooks, memoirs, and any combination of these things.

Get It Here

Amazon  || Barnes and Noble || Book Depository || BookShop || IndieBound 

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Mango and Peppercorns

Thanks to NetGalley and Edelweiss for the digital advance review copy of this book. These are my honest opinions of the book

Extra, Extra: Recipe: Mango and Peppercorns Smoothie

As I mentioned earlier, there are but few recipes that I can try out as a vegetarian from the above book, and I am yet to try them out. I will be sure to feature or talk about them as soon as I try them out – the flan and the pudding definitely! But reading all the recipes and the title of the book itself inspired me to try out something at home; especially considering I had the two key ingredients handy – mango and peppercorns!

So here is a quick and delish recipe for you, perfect for summer…and anti-inflammatory too!

Mango and Peppercorns Smoothie

Related Reads

Books With Nature, etc. on the Cover

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday over at ThatArtsyReaderGirl, I ended up with many more.. and I did not even get started on the fiction reads with nature-themes on the cover!!

  1. Ocean Speaks: Marie Tharp and the Map That Moved the Earth: About the first person to map the Earth’s underwater mountain ridge.
  2. Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera: A book about the life cycle of the seemingly ubiquitous honeybee; but a book is a rather tame word for this. 
  3. How to Find a Bird: A delightful guide to birdwatching wherever you are; by observing and using your senses. 
  4. Wildlife on Paper: Magnificent crumpled paper art brings to life animal species at risk from all around the world.
  5. Nature Did it First: Engineering Through Biomimicry: a cool look at how we draw inspiration from nature for everyday products and more!
  6. Packs: Strength in Numbers: This book is a stack of pages bound together into a wondrous gift! Check it out for yourself..
  7. A New Green Day: Fun riddles for young readers about nature..
  8. Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive: Plants are sneaky; and you will learn the many ways how in this book.
  9. Wild Style: Amazing Animal Adornments: A book that should adorn your bookshelves (when you are not actively reading it, that is) — missing from the image below .
  10. She Leads: The Elephant Matriarch: This book is sure to inform you and make you feel so much better. My own love for elephants ensures I am going to re-read this one!
  11. WildLives: 50 Extraordinary Animals that Made History: A  book that tells us stories of extraordinary animals, as the title says
  12. Numenia and the Hurricane: Inspired by a True Migration Story: Loved the dramatic and beautifully lyrical verse accompanied by the equally dramatic and visually stunning illustrations 
  13. The Very Oldest Pear Tree: This book is history and nature in one package. Nancy Sanders relates the story of — as the title says — the very oldest pear tree(in the United States)
  14. Team Earth: A must-have in classrooms; and a great gift idea for budding young scientists.
  15. A New Kind of Wild: The only non-non-fiction book in this list.. A New Kind of Wild is simply stunning – both because of the sweet storytelling and the breathtakingly beautiful images.
  16. National Parks of the USA: This book is perfect to add to the fun of virtual vacations in our national parks.

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, have you read any of the featured books? What about Vietnamese cuisine? Any favorite recipe or restaurant for this cuisine? Will you try out the mango smoothie recipe?

14 thoughts on “Mango and Peppercorns: A Wonderful Combination

    1. Hi Lydia, the list of books is there at the end of this post, and guessing the TopTenTuesday image/logo missing earlier can cause people to miss that section..I have since added the logo to make it easier to find.. though there was an image with the book covers already at the bottom of my post)

  1. This sounds like a great book for me to read. I already love this book and will definitely get a copy of it. Thank you!

  2. Wehn I ever get to a point in my life I’m able to go back to stories this sounds like a great one to start with. It’s always amazing to me how pepper can give something just the right punch you didn’t even know it needed. Thanks for your insights.

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