Couldn’t fall asleep last night so I dived right into the “Shrimp & Crawfish” episode of Dave Chang’s Ugly Delicious on Netflix. I started with this particular episode because I wanted to learn the Viet-Cajun cuisine in Houston.
When Chang visited New Orleans he was turned off by the traditionalist. Even a crawfish joint ran by a Vietnamese-America family refused to change the recipe. The chef just cooked the crawfish the way he was taught many years ago. It’s a missed opportunity.
When Chang visited Crawfish & Noodles in Houston, chef Trọng Nguyễn brought Vietnamese rich flavors into the crawfish. Chang doesn’t reject the tradition, but he is also into experimentation and creating new creative fusion. He is an open-minded chef and individual.
The most striking moment of this episode is the conversation he had with a Vietnamese-American shrimper. The man referred to himself as the Vietnamese redneck. He and his family were given an opportunity to pursue the American dream, yet he criticized the other half of the country for taking handouts instead of working hard like them. It’s quite patronizing coming from an immigrant himself.
Chang, on the other hand, simply wanted to give new immigrants an opportunity like we had a couple of decades ago. WhatI appreciate about Ugly Delicious isn’t just the mouthwatering food, but also the political, racial, and cultural perspectives, and most importantly, the openness and acceptance. I am looking forward to watch the rest of the episodes.