A big bowl of Vietnamese pho noodle soup is my comfort food. It’s the thing I crave when I’m sick or lonely or I miss home. I’m not sure how this came to be since it’s not very American. I should be craving chicken noodle soup or mac and cheese. Perhaps it comes from growing up in a big city and having access to all different kinds of food. I don’t feel like my eating habits are very American. Whatever the reason, there is something so comforting to me about this soup.
Usually it comes with a bunch of condiments like chilies, herbs, lemon or lime slices and sriracha. I like that you can customize it. I like mine spicy enough to sweat out whatever is bothering me with some lemon or lime for freshness. The result is spicy, a little sweet and light but filling.
Over the past week, I have taken final exams in marketing, financial markets, financial accounting and statistics. It has been grueling and draining in a different kind of way than the working world is. You get to a point where your head feels like it’s going to explode and where you just can’t fit in one more thing. I’m exhausted. When I was working I thought of school in this nostalgic way, as in it was so much easier. Wrong. It is hard! Not only do I have a full schedule of classes but I have homework too. My day often starts at 5.30am and ends with me exhaustedly falling into bed around 11.30pm. This week there were multiple days in a row where I didn’t leave my apartment and I studied from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep. After all that work, I still don’t feel like I aced it. I feel mediocre and I have never worked this hard in my life to be mediocre.
Hence the need for a bit of comfort in my world! As I arrived back in Paris today after taking my statistics exam I remembered a Vietnamese restaurant that I have been wanting to try. It’s a hole-in-the-wall near gare Montparnasse on a tiny street. I had stumbled upon it one day when I was in the neighborhood. It was closed but I made a mental note (with the few brain cells I have left!) to return. I walked in today, squeezed into a small, crowded table and ordered a bowl of beef pho with a Saigon beer. My steaming bowl of soup arrived moments later with the requisite sides. I took one sip and could instantly tell that this was the real deal. Pho is all about the broth and this broth was perfect. This is the kind of soup you get on a street corner in Vietnam; the kind of soup that changes your whole definition of soup. I loaded it up with all the goodies and proceeded to slurp down an amazing meal. Comfort in a bowl = life is good again.