My Partner Doesn’t Know What “Pork Floss” Is

A story about identity

Ellen Nguyen

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Photo by Durian Bullet on Unsplash

This year marks the 10th Lunar New Year I’m not spending with my family in Vietnam and 2 years since I last visited Vietnam. It’s a bit crazy to think about that little fact.

Needless to say, I’ve been feeling homesick.

Since I discovered a Vietnamese supermarket near my place in London, I haven’t stopped eating authentic Vietnamese food: Phở ăn liền (instant Pho), giò lụa (lean pork pie), and bánh chưng (square sticky rice cake).

I have gotten so used to my lifestyle in London and adapting without question over the years that sometimes I forget just how comforting and effortless it is to surround myself with familiar things from my birthplace.

The other day, while I was on a video call with my sisters to wish each other a happy lunar new year, I saw my eldest one eating a popular Asian dish called ruốc (pork floss.) She told me that she had bought it from a Vietnamese seller on Facebook who was part of a niche group for immigrants like us.

From my understanding, my sister frequented those groups initially because she wanted to promote her Vietnamese blog to Vietnamese people. In that regard, I only write in English, so I haven’t made any efforts to imbed myself in such groups — I figured my own circle of Vietnamese people was enough for me socially.

But then, in the middle of my homesickness, I asked myself, “Why not?” I always knew that these groups existed; I just never thought I’d need them. I thought I’d be fine “adapting without question.” And I have been fine. But I have to admit that it’s exhausting sometimes and I definitely don’t give myself enough credit for thriving in a foreign country.

The longer I am away from my home country, the further removed I feel from my culture by birth… until I don’t know what I am anymore. I’m caught between two different worlds, unsure where to call home.

Yesterday, I excitedly looked for authentic Asian food to order from one of those Facebook groups I was accepted into. There were so many familiar things to choose from — they…

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Ellen Nguyen

Freelance writer & digital creator | London based | Psychology BSc. Editor of LovefulMind.com, empowering women.