Have I ever mentioned that I’m the youngest of five kids? Four girls and one boy smack dab in the middle—wasn’t our brother so lucky?
Needless to say, it made quite the childhood experience with all of us growing up in one house with our parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles.
And it got even more crowded when 8-9 of us would cram into our Oldsmobile station wagon for our annual summer road trips from Minnesota to Texas to visit mom’s brother and his family. I don’t know how we all survived jammed into one car for so many miles (nearly 1200 each way!) but I guess anyone from a big family knows there’s no such thing as personal space. It may also have helped that it was the 80s and seat belt laws were non-existent!
I kind of wished we would have taped some of those road trips as I’m sure they would have been hysterical to look back at. We were kind of the Vietnamese version of the Griswolds.
Nowadays the five of us are a bit scattered around with my brother and his family in New York, one seester in San Francisco, two other seesters & their fams in Orange County and me in San Diego. And although we may never be able to recreate those old summer road trips to Texas, our Sunday Family Dinners have been one of our ways to start new traditions for our kids to look back at.
We’ve been going at this for about a year and half now, rotating the monthly dinners between the homes of my two seesters who live in Orange County. It’s been awesome that our sis from SF has flown down every few months to make our dinners but it’s a little difficult for our brother and his fam to make it from NY. But when we are lucky to have all of us for Sunday Family Dinner, it is quite the celebration–like the N’awlins Seafood Boil we did the first Fam Din we were all together. 50+ pounds of seafood…it was epic. Totally Gluttonous, but epic.
The whole gang was back together this past December to celebrate the holidays and spend some QT with each other. It’s probably the most time that the five of us have spent together in years!
We all attended our cousin’s baby’s first month celebration (Đầy Tháng), Mom’s death anniversary (ngày giỗ), a snow day in the mountains, Leonidas‘ (our brother’s son) 2nd birthday party, Christmas Eve festivities with the entire clan, the New Year’s Eve bash, endless meals in Little Saigon at our old favorite haunts, and of course– December’s Sunday Family Dinner.
8 siblings (including the sibs-in-law), 6 kids and 2 canine kids– a packed house again!
With all of the craziness that was going on, we tried to create a menu that had the least bit of stress and prep time. As for the theme, we did a slight homage to our N’awlins Feast and kept it open to EVERYTHING SEAFOOD! Well, except dessert….that would be a little too hardcore- even for us!
Dinner consisted of:
- Grilled Octopus and Prawns
- Ahi Poke on Wasabi Chips (recipe coming soon)
- Fresh Manila Clam Pizza with Arugula
- Grilled Cod Tacos with Pico de Gallo & Avocado Cabbage Slaw
- Fisherman’s Stew with Saffron
- Cream of Asparagus Soup with Crab
- Queen of Sheba Torte with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream
- Moscow Mules
We kind of pulled everything together at the last minute but I think it was a definite Nguyen-er!
Now if we could just convince my brother and his fam to move back to Cali, we could have dinners like this all of the time!
And a special HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to our seester, TUONG!
Oh those Capricorns…..