What the Pho?


I’m made pho fo’ three hundred and fifty people this afternoon. I don’t know what pho looks like or even how to pronounce it. I think it’s pronounced fo, like fo’real and fo’get it.
I’ve never made pho be-pho,  but since I lived in Asia, everyone thinks I should be a whiz at making it.
Pho’ real ?
Luckily, none of the hungry mouths at my table tonight included Anthony Bourdaine or Gordon Ramsey. They belonged to a smorgasbord of hippies, punkers,  urban farmers, and baristas that live at Jesus People in Chicago’s Uptown.
These guys will eat anything.


That includes donated meat reincarnated into a zesty Indian curry to Italian pesto made by a feisty Puerto Rican.

And pho, pho sure.
So I looked for the pho recipe that was supposedly kept  in the kitchen  book, a sacred collection of recipes written on everything from parchment paper to recycled print outs.  I flipped through the plastic pages, looking fo the pho recipe under P but found nothing. Then under F and still zilch.
What the pho?
Finally, my fingers found it filed under T. That’s because it’s Tim’s Pho Recipe.
And here are the priceless directions.
“See Tim on how to make it”.
Tim no longer works in the kitchen.
Luckily, I found Tim at breakfast, who was stabbing a stack of pancakes when I accosted him.
“So, what’s the recipe fo pho?”
Tim put down his fork and picked up his phone. I tried not to stare at his thumb which was mangled last spring after operating heavy equipment.
“Sorry Ginger, I can’t find my recipe fo pho. But you can find one at Steamy Kitchen. Gotta go!”
So I aproned up in the kitchen at 9:30 without a recipe, just my prep crew,none of whom have made pho be-pho either.

The crew included a Texan, a Columbian who’s learning English  and a  punker from the Bronx with more ink on his skin than in my fountain pen.


We chopped carrots until our fingers turned orange and listened to reggae music while we got the job done.
I cubed forty pounds of pork and seared it in a brazier which is an industrial frying pan the size of a bathtub.


I had hope for my pho.

I swore on the Bible that I’d follow the Pho recipe to a T, not adding a shake more sriracha or a pound less sliced carrots. Then prayed I wouldn’t misread the recipe and pour in half a gallon of sriacha instead of half a cup.

I only added a quarter of the amount of spices that were listed on the ingredients list, fearing the pho could put one of our senior residents into cardiac arrest. I stirred the pho  fo two hours, which is more of a workout than  rowing machine.
Then, after all our chopping and stirring,  I tasted the pho.
No bad, pho’ real!
The pho was to be served with rice noodles, which were a of a burden to make. They can turn into a glob of goop if they sit out longer than thirty seconds.
But the hungry mouths seemed  loved our pho.

I don’t know if I’ll make pho again, but when I put the recipe back in the book, I’ll file it under F,  pho fo stars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *