This story is woven from dozens of delicate strands - individual hopes and dreams and memories and associations - darting back and forth in time until the whole forms a shimmering spider's web, more than able to carry the weight of the history and the future it frames. Beautiful in so many ways.
The history of Vietnam lies in this bowl, for it is in Hanoi, the Vietnamese heart, that phò was born, a combination of the rice noodles that predominated after a thousand years of Chinese occupation and the taste for beef the Vietnamese acquired under the French, who turned their cows away from ploughs and into bifteck and pot-au-feu. The name of their national soup is pronounced like this French word for fire, as Hùng’s Uncle Chiĕn explained to him long ago.
'We’re a clever people,' his uncle had said. 'We took the best the occupiers had to offer and made it our own.'