Dear Gentle Readers and Unconventional Conventionalists,

Please accept my sincerest apology. I’ve neglected the blog. Rest assured, we’re still eating. Neither of us looks “too thin,” although Jeff seemed so upon returning from a business trip in D.C. We’ve just been busy. Since August, I’ve gained full-time employment. It’s going really well, thanks. We also went to Greece. That was super too, thanks again. On the other hand, our gas was shut off for a week and a half. At one point during that time, I thought “Oh la la – I should get creative and cook rice on the grill. That would make a great blog entry.” It can be done and we outwardly weathered the trials of People’s Gas with the “Rome is burning” panache we’re becoming known for by grilling out nearly every night. (So festive.) However, overstimulation renders me silent. So it is that our adventures have gone unrecorded.

Today finds me with ample time, if not sufficient brain power, to write because I’m sick at home. It’s also the first cold day of the season. How cold? Try a high of 49F with 20 mph winds. Situations like this universally call for soup. I would make some today, but there’s no way in hell I’m going out there. Instead, I will regale you with tales of pho.

I was first informed of a pho location by a lover who grew up in Cleveland. I was due north of Columbus to start my M.A. at Case Western Reserve and he kindly informed me of various “must-sees” in the city of his birth. The West Side Market was one. Number One Pho was another. Columbus didn’t have pho at the time, so I’d only heard of it, vegetarian at that, from a Seattle friend, but the idea of a big, fuck-all bowl of broth, noodles, beef and fresh basil sounded like a brilliant idea. The idea of something that amazing being served by a half-deaf Vietnamese man was even better. A few months after landing in Cleveland, I sought out Number One Pho and it was all that Aaron reported it to be. The restaurant served nothing but pho, despite housing a large soft-serve machine and dusty sundae glasses in the corner. American football blared from a TV in the back. The owner, deaf as stone and screaming “You want pho?!!! How many?!! You sit. Sit! Pay later!” The soup? Manna from heaven, a veritable cure-all-of-what-ails-ya, whether physical or existential. I would go on to seek out pho as often as possible.

Similarly, Jeff was introduced to pho by an intimate friend. (Hi!) Being of a more cosmopolitan cut than me, he had many opportunities to partake, but never did simply because you can live in New York City forever and never come to the end of places to eat. Furthermore, his time in Chicago, previous to the past year, was characterized by financial instability. As such, he never got out to explore any one of the millions of noodle joints our city offers. Yet, it was in Columbus, OH that he first had it. We were in town for Mother’s Day. He was all road weary and work stressed, feeling like he was coming down with something. So my parents took us to Trang’s (former owner of Lac Viet in the North Market) new place where he served up not only pho, but a weekend special pho with grilled lamb instead of beef. I won’t presume to describe Jeff’s experience, but I do know a few things about him. I know that when he goes from hollow-eyed’n’pale to flush’n’sparkly, he’s feeling better. I also know that when he eats something he likes, he too seeks it out, either by restaurant or by home cooking. And so it was that he caught pho fever. Where do we get this in Chicago? Which place is the best? Why haven’t we been there? Is it easier to make at home? Let’s make a plan of action.

Our plan was to make it at home. However, I’ve run out of steam for the day. Recipe, notes and photos from our research to follow in the next post.