Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, Lyn Nguyen, Elisa Ung

Mango and Peppercorns by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen

A powerful memoir of resilience, friendship, family, and food from the acclaimed chefs behind the award-winning Hy Vong Vietnamese restaurant in Miami.

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.

Tung’s fierce practicality often clashed with Kathy’s free-spirited nature, but over time, they found a harmony in their contrasts—a harmony embodied in the restaurant’s signature mango and peppercorns sauce.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream by Tung Nguyen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness I loved this so much!

I would like to thank Chronicle Books for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

I’d recommend it to everyone. One that I think everyone would love to have in their cookbook library and it would be a great book club pick.

It’s really a special book, unique with the merging of memoir and cookbook, done excellently.

When reading it I felt like a special friend was sharing a piece of their heart with me, something deep, almost sacred, along recipes that most restaurants hold tightly, and to share them at this point in time made me feel all that more fortunate to have them.

The Story
Depicting life journeys, business journeys, so honest in every which way. From fleeing Saigon as a refugee as the Vietnam War came to an end in 1975 to interpersonal relationships, struggles and celebrations.

It’s very personal as it depicts themes of cultural assimilation, customs, social class, restauranteurship, personal relationships, child-rearing, and everything along the way.

It evoked this strong sense of community, belonging, all while detailing what it also feels like to be an imposter, foreigner, lonely, lost, undeserving, all while having hope and living the best way you know how.

I loved the bluntness, newness, and vulnerability, bringing me in perspective not only as it was and but also how it was perceived.

The Writing
Incredibly well-written and well-organized. I loved how the stories were told in parallel, multiple POVs done really well.

I loved the photos. Personal ones made it memorable and sentimental

The Recipes
I’m excited to try them all. So far I’ve tried two, absolutely delicious so far! Keep an eye on my website as I work my way through them.

A book that made me laugh, made me cry, I felt it to be very touching and I’m looking forward to getting a final copy.

View all my reviews

Mangoes and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry Oven | Erica Robbin
Mango and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry Oven | Erica Robbin
Mangoes and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry | Erica Robbin
Mango and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry | Erica Robbin
Mangoes and Peppercorns Watercress Salad with Hy Vong's Signature Dressing | Erica Robbin
Mango and Peppercorns Watercress Salad with Hy Vong’s Signature Dressing | Erica Robbin
<span class="uppercase">Hello, I'm Erica </span>
Hello, I’m Erica

Recipe developer, book reviewer, and artist. Expect delicious recipes both traditional and new, book reviews of all sorts of genres, a variety of creative expression, life musings, and much more!


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