Hot Best Seller

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

Availability: Ready to download

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, pregna 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. • IMPORTANT, UNIVERSAL STORY: An inspiring memoir peppered with recipes, it is a riveting read that will appeal to fans of Roy Choi, Ed Lee, Ruth Reichl, and Kwame Onwuachi. • TIMELY TOPIC: This real-life American dream is a welcome reminder of our country's longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants. This book adds a touchpoint to that larger conversation, resonating beyond the bookshelf. • INVENTIVE COOKBOOK: This book is taking genre-bending a step further, focusing on the story first and foremost with 20 complementary recipes. Perfect for: • Fans of culinary nonfiction • Fans of Ruth Reichl, Roy Choi, Kwame Onwuachi, and Anya Von Bremzen • Home cooks who are interested in Asian food and cooking


Compare

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, pregna 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. • IMPORTANT, UNIVERSAL STORY: An inspiring memoir peppered with recipes, it is a riveting read that will appeal to fans of Roy Choi, Ed Lee, Ruth Reichl, and Kwame Onwuachi. • TIMELY TOPIC: This real-life American dream is a welcome reminder of our country's longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants. This book adds a touchpoint to that larger conversation, resonating beyond the bookshelf. • INVENTIVE COOKBOOK: This book is taking genre-bending a step further, focusing on the story first and foremost with 20 complementary recipes. Perfect for: • Fans of culinary nonfiction • Fans of Ruth Reichl, Roy Choi, Kwame Onwuachi, and Anya Von Bremzen • Home cooks who are interested in Asian food and cooking

30 review for Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kru

    First things first - I totally love this cover. This is an alluring compilation of recipes on Vietnamese cooking alongside a narrative of friendship, faith, harmony that blends in the American dream and the refugee story. A delightful read, that I would recommend to all readers that love food and getting to know people.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    I love food memoirs! Mango and Peppercorns is the story of a Vietnamese refugee, the family she forged with an American woman, and the restaurant they opened together. Tung escaped from Vietnam as a refugee in the mid 1970's. As a pregnant young refugee, who spoke no English, she wound up living in the Miami home of Kathy, a college student who opened her home to a number of Vietnam refugees. Kathy and Tung established a connection and Kathy helped encourage Tung's cooking talent. Later they dec I love food memoirs! Mango and Peppercorns is the story of a Vietnamese refugee, the family she forged with an American woman, and the restaurant they opened together. Tung escaped from Vietnam as a refugee in the mid 1970's. As a pregnant young refugee, who spoke no English, she wound up living in the Miami home of Kathy, a college student who opened her home to a number of Vietnam refugees. Kathy and Tung established a connection and Kathy helped encourage Tung's cooking talent. Later they decided to open a small Vietnamese restaurant, one of Miami's first. The place quickly became popular for its delicious dishes. Kathy and Tung raised Tung's daughter together. The memoir is written by Tung, Kathy, and Tung's daughter Lynn. The narrative alternates between each of their perspectives. Each chapter also ends in a recipe or two that go along with what was written about in that chapter. I found it fascinating and heartbreaking reading about Tung's experiences. It must've been so tough moving to a new country where she didn't know the language, losing touch with her family back in Vietnam, having to face America as an unwed mother. There is a lot in the book about how even in the US, Tung was judged by others from Vietnam since she grew up as a poor rural farmer. The friendship of Tung and Kathy lasted through the years despite their differing opinions on how to run a business. It is clear that these two women care for eachother. What to listen to while reading... Lonely People by America You've Got a Friend by Carole King Hope by Arlo Parks I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor Marrow by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down Light On by Maggie Rogers Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I was given access to the eARC of this book thanks to the authors, the publisher, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Mango and Peppercorns is a moving memoir of Vietnamese food, culture, and the search for family. The book tells the story of Tung Nguyen’s childhood in rural Vietnam, a hard life full of work and commitment to family. We journey with Tung from her small village, to the markets of Saigon, and her sudden escape as a refugee to America during the fall of Saigon where she I was given access to the eARC of this book thanks to the authors, the publisher, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Mango and Peppercorns is a moving memoir of Vietnamese food, culture, and the search for family. The book tells the story of Tung Nguyen’s childhood in rural Vietnam, a hard life full of work and commitment to family. We journey with Tung from her small village, to the markets of Saigon, and her sudden escape as a refugee to America during the fall of Saigon where she meets Katherine Manning, who takes her in. The book is told through the eyes and voices of Tung and Kathy, and later, Tung’s daughter Lyn, and is an exploration of identity and belonging. As much as this is Tung’s story, it is equally Kathy’s story, as we follow her journey from a small girl in Iowa to sharing her home with several Vietnamese refugee families and setting up a small restaurant with Tung - Hy Vong, ending as one of Miami's most celebrated and beloved restaurants. Tung’s voice is often harsh; her recollections and expectations painful. Kathy is ditzy and forgetful, and often criticised by Tung. Even with these hardships, it is food that serves as the glue for this unlikely chosen family. Tung’s culture shines through in the recipes scattered throughout the memoir; rich and unctuous flavours, salt, heat and spice. But this is not a typical cookbook. You won’t find fancy coloured pictures of the recipe outcome, but you will find pictures of the protagonists in the middle of the book (something I greatly appreciated). This is a memoir told around and through Vietnamese cooking. It is the constant in everything, from every time, and every place in the book. The simple message is a reminder that food brings people together, transcends culture and language, and can build love, belonging, and community. 3.5 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Natalie White

    This multi-narrator memoir offers a view into the lives of a Vietnamese refugee and her American host. Through their narratives and reflection Nguyen (the Vietnamese refugee) and Manning (her host) share the hardships, grit, and determination required to make their American Dreams a reality. Readers are confronted with the complexity of the refugee experience and root for not only the success of Nguyen as she begins her new life, but also that of her young daughter, whose voice becomes a third pe This multi-narrator memoir offers a view into the lives of a Vietnamese refugee and her American host. Through their narratives and reflection Nguyen (the Vietnamese refugee) and Manning (her host) share the hardships, grit, and determination required to make their American Dreams a reality. Readers are confronted with the complexity of the refugee experience and root for not only the success of Nguyen as she begins her new life, but also that of her young daughter, whose voice becomes a third perspective in the memoir. Woven throughout the memoir are mouth-watering recipes that tie into the chapters, which offers culinary intrigue to readers regardless of past cooking experience! **I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten Clark

    Wow what am interesting life! It is always so fascinating to me to read about immigrants who truly discover the American dream life. This story is particularly inspiring because they create an entirely woman owned business in a time when that was certainly not the trend. Tung is an inspiration and together with Katherine they are a powerhouse team who will certainly inspire generations to come.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    Rating: 4.5 stars "After learning that Vietnamese eat fried or steamed fish with a side of unripe green mango and fish sauce, all garnished with hers, I happened to see a recipe for fish with mango and green peppercorns in a magazine, and decided to make it with beautiful ripe local fruit. I thought the dish turned out delicious, until I presented it to Tung, who shot me the same disdainful look she had given me all those years ago when she was unsatisfied with her phở. She then set about trying Rating: 4.5 stars "After learning that Vietnamese eat fried or steamed fish with a side of unripe green mango and fish sauce, all garnished with hers, I happened to see a recipe for fish with mango and green peppercorns in a magazine, and decided to make it with beautiful ripe local fruit. I thought the dish turned out delicious, until I presented it to Tung, who shot me the same disdainful look she had given me all those years ago when she was unsatisfied with her phở. She then set about trying her own take on the dish. She brought more snapper and ripe mango and got to work. I watched as she basically followed the same steps I had, then her instincts kicked in and she added fish sauce and a little butter at the end. What a difference that made! Those two simple additions amplified how the soft, sweet mango complemented the tart, spicy peppercorns, picked while they were still green and young. Mango and peppercorns—so different, yet somehow so right together." (The following book contains some adult themes, references to war) Simplicity can be deceiving. Chefs always talk about how quality ingredients make or break the simplest or recipes, and this unassuming memoir-cookbook combo is the perfect example of that. It’s a relatively short, straightforward book, but the content is what makes it shine. Michelle Bernstein describes it best; in the book’s foreword she explains, “It’s such an American story: A pregnant, hardworking Vietnamese refugee meets a strong Midwestern woman with a big personality. Together they open a cherished, widely acclaimed restaurant, creating their success as a business owned entirely by women—all while raising a child.” Mango and Peppercorns is a collection of loosely connected chapters that chronicles Tung’s journey to America, her friendship with Kathy, and the incredible restaurant they started together. Told in alternating perspectives, the book is filled with vignettes from the two women’s lives and capped off with accompanying recipes. While a part of me wishes the recipes came with accompanying pictures, the authors use such descriptive language, I could almost taste the food. I tend to avoid non-fiction because it can be dry and cerebral, but Mango and Peppercorns is as exciting as its recipes. The essay-like chapters are concise but pack a punch (much like Hy Vong’s kimchi,) and Tung and Kathy’s personalities clearly come across the page and bring the book to life. I mean, just listen to Tung’s opening lines, “Kathy never listened. And it was time to teach her a lesson, Vietnamese-style.” Any Asian kid worth their salt knows Kathy’s life is about to get a whole lot harder. Their story is interesting enough on its own, but the distinct voices that tell it bring a personal element that make it even more compelling. Fans of Food Network will love the mouthwatering descriptions of food and lovers of story will enjoy this unbelievable biography. If you like stories of unlikely heroines, of defying expectations, of overcoming the odds, of friendship and of family, you should definitely pick this up…Just don’t read this on an empty stomach. You know how you used to swap lunch items with your friends at school? Chronicle Books gave me a digital ARC, and I gave them an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Chronicle Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. If you want inspiration and are a foodie like me you can't get any better than Mango and Peppercorns. Tung's story warmed my heart and at parts brought tears to my eyes. No matter how tough things were for Tung, she wanted the American Dream to share her recipes from Vietnam with the world. Katharine is such a strong woman believing in Tung This book was received as an ARC from Chronicle Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. If you want inspiration and are a foodie like me you can't get any better than Mango and Peppercorns. Tung's story warmed my heart and at parts brought tears to my eyes. No matter how tough things were for Tung, she wanted the American Dream to share her recipes from Vietnam with the world. Katharine is such a strong woman believing in Tung which is what he needed most and the flavors just won her over. I also loved how each chapter ended with a recipe to try for yourself. I am a huge lover of Pho and can't wait to try Tung's grandmother's version which I am sure is full of flavor and delicious. I know this story also will warm the hearts of our patrons too and I can't wait to share it with them. We will consider adding this title to our TX Non-Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: December 7, 2020 Publication date: March 16, 2021 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book fro Date reviewed/posted: December 7, 2020 Publication date: March 16, 2021 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. 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 harmony in their contrasts—a harmony embodied in the restaurant's signature mango and peppercorns sauce. Although this was categorized on Netgalley under Cookbooks it is a memoir with a few yummy recipes. Both the women are fascinating and their dichotomy made it a fascinating read. I cannot imagine them working together much less owning one of the USA's most acclaimed restaurants. A definite book choice for people who love to read about resilience and triumph with some great recipes as a bonus. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🥭🥭🥭🥭🥭 (first time I have used HAT emoji!)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Opal Edgar

    Mango and Peppercorns by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen is a memoir about a famous Miami restaurant and how it came to be, how it introduced the region to Vietnamese food, and how it survived despite the odds thanks to the unlikely friendship of two strong and very hard working women. I am so glad to have read it. I am an unconditional fan of Vietnamese food - my comfort dish is in fact the pho which I used to eat once a week as a baby and later as a teen in a hole in the wall lit Mango and Peppercorns by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen is a memoir about a famous Miami restaurant and how it came to be, how it introduced the region to Vietnamese food, and how it survived despite the odds thanks to the unlikely friendship of two strong and very hard working women. I am so glad to have read it. I am an unconditional fan of Vietnamese food - my comfort dish is in fact the pho which I used to eat once a week as a baby and later as a teen in a hole in the wall little place who didn’t have much else on their menu. All my childhood as we lived away from any good vietnamese restaurant I craved those silken rice noodles, comforting beef broth and piles of fragrant herbs. Reading that book was like sinking in the warmth of that soup. It was a fascinating tale and I loved the recipes at the end of almost every chapter. Tung’s story as a refugee from the countryside Vietnam is heart wrenching. Her life seems so full of hardship and efforts, luckily rewarded, but at such a high cost. I really am thankful to have heard a story that must have been so hard to tell. I do hope she can rest now and feel at peace despite being uprooted the way she was, cut away from her family, unappreciated by them despite being the most important thing for her and having to reconcile her unusual path with traditional views of success. The book offers many insights into Vietnamese culture, the hardness, social pressure and hardship they face. A lot I recognise from other Asian cultures which always demand so much from each, and are so thankless towards women. I am so glad that those two were able to build what they did, but the book really put into light how much harder it is for women, how if they are married they often are expected to fall into a supportive role rather than shine… A riveting tale of success from a talented woman and the person who believed in her, and the daughter she fought for. I recommend it to people who love to read about women role models, and anyone who enjoys Vietnamese food.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Mango and Peppercorn is a delightful cookbook for people like me, who prefer memoirs and stories over lists of recipes and directions. When I learned that this cookbook was a memoir about three women whose lives intersected due to a real life found family situation, I knew I had to read it. As a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, I was also excited to finally learn how to make some of my favorite authentic dishes responsibly. While I'm not a huge subscriber to "American Dream"-esque stories, this half-c Mango and Peppercorn is a delightful cookbook for people like me, who prefer memoirs and stories over lists of recipes and directions. When I learned that this cookbook was a memoir about three women whose lives intersected due to a real life found family situation, I knew I had to read it. As a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, I was also excited to finally learn how to make some of my favorite authentic dishes responsibly. While I'm not a huge subscriber to "American Dream"-esque stories, this half-cookbook half-memoir is a charming story about an immigrant, her child, and a close friend who is essentially family. Something I enjoyed was how fast paced the book was. There are so many recipe websites which go on for ages with unrelated stories glued before recipe lists. This book's anecdotes are always closely related to the recipes they build to, and help you really feel an attachment to the cultures that is celebrated within its pages. It was really touching to watch one of the authors grow up throughout the memoir, and how that affected the other two authors, who were co-parents to her. The recipes were varied and diverse, and some even had adjustments for people who wouldn't want to try certain traditional ingredients. I also appreciated how simple the directions were and how clearly organized they were for the reader. If you were to flip through the memoir for recipes, they would be incredibly easy to spot. Other design details I really appreciated were the book's beautiful cover and decals throughout the pages. At times the fast pace of the story leads to choppy transitions, but this is incredibly minor. This cookbook only has a few recipes, but each one is significant and meaningful to the people who made them. I would take a few recipes with heart over a long list any day. Make sure to preorder or buy this book from a local bookstore when it comes out on March 16th! Thank you to NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sunni C. | vanreads

    I picked up this book because the cover was gorgeous and premise sounded super interesting: two women who run a restaurant together, sharing recipes and bits of their lives. I thought this was a unique memoir, sharing the story of two unique women, one Vietnamese woman (Tung) and one white woman (Kathy), who have built a life together. I like stories of strong friendships, and I feel like these kinds of deep friendships are often missing in adult stories. Since it is a story written jointly betw I picked up this book because the cover was gorgeous and premise sounded super interesting: two women who run a restaurant together, sharing recipes and bits of their lives. I thought this was a unique memoir, sharing the story of two unique women, one Vietnamese woman (Tung) and one white woman (Kathy), who have built a life together. I like stories of strong friendships, and I feel like these kinds of deep friendships are often missing in adult stories. Since it is a story written jointly between Tung, Kathy, and Tung's daughter, Lyn, I would believe that their relationship is one that is built off years of friendship that has overcome cultural differences, disagreements, successes, and joyful moments. However, I feel like parts of the memoir missed the mark. There are many times when Kathy seems to jump in as a white saviour in parts of the story to 'help' when Tung first arrives in the US and as she learns to adapt to the US. Granted, both Kathy and Tung are from a different generation, so while it's a bit uncomfortable to read about now, I believe that this was all done in good intention at the time, I think perhaps the editing process could have done a better job in ensuring that more of Tung's voice shines through, showing her agency as an individual. I want to know what Tung was thinking when Kathy was trying to help her. What did Tung feel? When did Tung realize her independence in America? I feel like this was probably more of an error on the editing part, because I truly believe that for a friendship that has been through this much, building a restaurant together, raising a child together, that both women are strong and independent in their own right. If it was a bit more obvious in the book, then I think I would have appreciated the story more. On an aside, I really love the recipes in this book! Thank you NetGalley for letting me read and review this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erica Robbin

    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 wi 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. 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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This unique memoir records the story of two women with vastly different cultures and personalities who became friends, then family, and created a restaurant and a life together. Told in both their voices (with some additional passages by their daughter), you get the benefit of reading most stories from both of their perspectives, a singular experience that I completely enjoyed. Nguyen is a Vietnamese refugee with a harrowing tale of escape at the end of the Vietnam War and Manning her eventual s This unique memoir records the story of two women with vastly different cultures and personalities who became friends, then family, and created a restaurant and a life together. Told in both their voices (with some additional passages by their daughter), you get the benefit of reading most stories from both of their perspectives, a singular experience that I completely enjoyed. Nguyen is a Vietnamese refugee with a harrowing tale of escape at the end of the Vietnam War and Manning her eventual sponsor in the United States. Their unlikely friendship blossomed into family the way it sometimes can and they eventually built a life together raising Phuong Lien (Lyn), Tung’s daughter, and creating a restaurant featuring Nguyen’s amazing talent for creating unparalleled, delicious food. Included in the book are the recipes many of Nguyen’s signature dishes, which is frankly distracting, since you simultaneously want to put down the book to make the amazing sounding food and also want to keep reading to find out how each part of their fascinating story unfolds. This touching story has something for everyone, whether you love hearing people’s coming-to-America tales, you’re a bit of foodie and love exploring new flavors and new recipes, or if your heart is touched by the stories of found family. I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for my honest opinion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cathie

    Through powerful narrative, archival imagery, and 20 Vietnamese recipes that mirror their story, Mango & Peppercorns is a unique contribution to culinary literature. Mango and Peppercorns is a memoir by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen who share their stories and perspectives. It reflects on a Vietnamese refugee landing in Miami, and the relationship between herself and her sponsor, that spans over three decades. It also reflects on the relationship between mother and child, infl Through powerful narrative, archival imagery, and 20 Vietnamese recipes that mirror their story, Mango & Peppercorns is a unique contribution to culinary literature. Mango and Peppercorns is a memoir by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen who share their stories and perspectives. It reflects on a Vietnamese refugee landing in Miami, and the relationship between herself and her sponsor, that spans over three decades. It also reflects on the relationship between mother and child, influenced by two vast cultures, and how the essence of time open up to understanding. It's never easy to leave home, especially in harsh circumstances much less live with fear and regret. Coming to grips to survive and heal and how they persevered is the journey they are taking us. Having established one of top Miami restaurants, Vietnamese cuisine was a lucky gem for the community; that opportunity to experience diversity through food. Personally, I felt this to be a story of healing for Tung than American dream propaganda, although I do feel some of that in the narrative. May we be reminded of cultural diversity and shared generational traditions. There is beauty in food writing which is why I am enthralled by this genre. As always, appreciate recipes - wished pictures were included for some of the dishes. The flan with ginger sounds delish!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jill Blevins

    Inspirational story with so much heart break that you keep having to remind yourself this isn’t fiction. If you enjoy pull yourself up from your bootstraps stories, gritty protagonists overcoming overwhelming obstacles with a sprinkling of greedy unappreciative relatives and a fatherless baby to worry about, this is perfect for you. If you don’t enjoy motivating stories of ordinary people, what is wrong with you? This might change your mind. It’s such a fast read, at least I couldn’t put it down Inspirational story with so much heart break that you keep having to remind yourself this isn’t fiction. If you enjoy pull yourself up from your bootstraps stories, gritty protagonists overcoming overwhelming obstacles with a sprinkling of greedy unappreciative relatives and a fatherless baby to worry about, this is perfect for you. If you don’t enjoy motivating stories of ordinary people, what is wrong with you? This might change your mind. It’s such a fast read, at least I couldn’t put it down until I knew they all survived, even though obviously the book was written so things must have turned out okay. I have in my heart the giving and gratitude I felt reading this unbelievable story. I know I’ll never have the opportunity to help or give or grow like these incredible women, but I can think about them and remember the resilience of these women. Somehow maybe I’ll have the opportunity to do something to help someone become their best self, and if I do, it can’t ever be half as hard as it was for these three strong people. Life is so hard when you aren’t given so much. If you don’t appreciate your advantages, you will after reading this incredible journey. We are lucky in this country that we have people like this living amongst us.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Heather O'Neill

    This is a memoir/cook book about Tung Nguyen, a woman from Vietnam who immigrates to the US during the fall of Saigon. Once in the US she is eventually sent to live with Kathy, a single woman from the midwest that is now living in Miami. They create an unlikely partnership and decide to open up a Vietnamese restaurant where Tung does the cooking and Kathy handles the business side of things. The book goes back and forth between Tung and Kathy each telling their side of the story and how they reme This is a memoir/cook book about Tung Nguyen, a woman from Vietnam who immigrates to the US during the fall of Saigon. Once in the US she is eventually sent to live with Kathy, a single woman from the midwest that is now living in Miami. They create an unlikely partnership and decide to open up a Vietnamese restaurant where Tung does the cooking and Kathy handles the business side of things. The book goes back and forth between Tung and Kathy each telling their side of the story and how they remember things. It was enjoyable to learn about them, especially Tung's life because she had a more interesting and dramatic life. I actually kind of wish that there was more in the book about both of them and that some life events the book got a little deeper into the issues than what it did. What the book did make me want was some of Tung's food! It sounded so good and like she put so much love and work into her food. She sounds like she's an amazing chef. It is incredible that she wrote down her recipes to some of the best recipes her restaurant served. I also loved the addition of the photos.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Audrey H.

    While I love the cover, I'm hard pressed to think of a recent memoir I've read with worse writing... I give a bit of a pass to Nguyen, who learned English reading/writing later in her life, but the words of Manning and Nguyen's daughter feel really basic. There's also sooooo much that is not opened up, examined, reflected on and picked apart here - Nguyen's relationship with her daughter, the (toxic?) relationship between Nguyen and Manning, Nguyen's romantic relationships, Nguyen's pull to her While I love the cover, I'm hard pressed to think of a recent memoir I've read with worse writing... I give a bit of a pass to Nguyen, who learned English reading/writing later in her life, but the words of Manning and Nguyen's daughter feel really basic. There's also sooooo much that is not opened up, examined, reflected on and picked apart here - Nguyen's relationship with her daughter, the (toxic?) relationship between Nguyen and Manning, Nguyen's romantic relationships, Nguyen's pull to her homeland's culture, her family's betrayal, everything! All we hear is that these things/conflicts happened, but we never dive deeper. Mango & Peppercorns is a regurgitation of what Nguyen went through (which one cannot belittle because she's an absolute survivor), but it doesn't come close to what I personally from a memoir. I think this should have been a cookbook. The two authors had a famous and critically acclaimed restaurant! It would have made a lot more sense to have bits and pieces of memoir/backstories/memories intermixed with a main body of recipes, explaining why certain dishes are sacred and important. Ending on a positive note, this has a gorgeous cover!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    Picking up Mango and Peppercorns I was not sure what I would make of the cookbook, only that I was curious about southeast Asian dishes. As it turns out, I do not think I could have been in for a better treat! I really loved the narrative shared throughout this cookbook--how it bounces between Kathy and Tung, and later Phuong Lien. I found it brilliant and beautiful that each recipe was shared through a form of storytelling--this cookbook wasn't just recipe after recipe followed by glossy photos. Picking up Mango and Peppercorns I was not sure what I would make of the cookbook, only that I was curious about southeast Asian dishes. As it turns out, I do not think I could have been in for a better treat! I really loved the narrative shared throughout this cookbook--how it bounces between Kathy and Tung, and later Phuong Lien. I found it brilliant and beautiful that each recipe was shared through a form of storytelling--this cookbook wasn't just recipe after recipe followed by glossy photos. It was grit, challenge, and love. More than anything I enjoyed reading about the story of these three women and their journeys over the years, in different locations, and how this lead to a mingling of Vietnamese, Scandinavian and American dishes. The only thing I would have enjoyed more, would be to see each recipe plated in a photo next to the corresponding recipe. However, this did not at all take away my experience from reading Mango and Peppercorns. Really, if you can get your hands on a copy of this, I highly recommend that you do! 5 stars for Mango and Peppercorns!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Riedmiller

    A 10 out of 10 Read and Amazing Recipes- I love this book as it is an incredible story of a woman who opened her home and heart to refugees from Vietnam and the partnership forged with a very gifted entrant to this county, Tung and her daughter, Lyn. I have read and re-read it and truly enjoyed it. I felt as though I was with them on their journey through life and the book touched all of my emotions, often. It was difficult to put down and I never could have imagined the journey they took. The stor A 10 out of 10 Read and Amazing Recipes- I love this book as it is an incredible story of a woman who opened her home and heart to refugees from Vietnam and the partnership forged with a very gifted entrant to this county, Tung and her daughter, Lyn. I have read and re-read it and truly enjoyed it. I felt as though I was with them on their journey through life and the book touched all of my emotions, often. It was difficult to put down and I never could have imagined the journey they took. The story is so amazing, the challenges they faced in all aspects of their lives and this unlikely pair that persevered to operate an award-winning restaurant, in the heart of Miami that defied odds to be the great success it was. I particularly felt touched learning about Lyn and the family dynamics she rose from to be who she is today…remarkable! Lastly, the recipes of Tung’s are to cherish. I have already made the spring rolls, which are addictive! I can’t wait to explore further guided by this master creator and chef

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie P (Because My Mother Read)

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This engaging new memoir tells the story of a pregnant Vietnamese woman who fled to America by herself during the war, the woman who volunteered to host her and other refugees, the friendship and family they formed together, and their journey to create an award winning “hole in the wall” Vietnamese restaurant in Miami. It is a fascinating peek into the highs and lows of restaurant life, a beautiful story of found family, and a complex look a I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This engaging new memoir tells the story of a pregnant Vietnamese woman who fled to America by herself during the war, the woman who volunteered to host her and other refugees, the friendship and family they formed together, and their journey to create an award winning “hole in the wall” Vietnamese restaurant in Miami. It is a fascinating peek into the highs and lows of restaurant life, a beautiful story of found family, and a complex look at experiencing a new culture and blending very different personalities with a common goal. There are recipes at the end of every chapter for a specific food mentioned in that chapter and it is full of mouthwatering food descriptions throughout. It is an engaging read with painful moments, heartwarming elements, and evidence of a whole lot of hard work. It also made me wonder about some of the backstories of other small business restaurants and gave me an added desire to go support them. Mango and Peppercorns is a very fitting name, but I will let you read for yourself to find out why!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    Mango and Peppercorns is a refugee memoir and a food memoir. On top of that it is a story of strength and perseverance. Tung is a Vietnamese refugee who just barely escaped Vietnam after the war. Kathy is a free-spirited American woman who sponsors Tung. After just a short time together either friendship grew into a partnership both in raising Tung's daughter but also in one of Miami's best restaurants. The story is told by three people, Tung, Kathy, and Lyn (Tung's daughter) through small stori Mango and Peppercorns is a refugee memoir and a food memoir. On top of that it is a story of strength and perseverance. Tung is a Vietnamese refugee who just barely escaped Vietnam after the war. Kathy is a free-spirited American woman who sponsors Tung. After just a short time together either friendship grew into a partnership both in raising Tung's daughter but also in one of Miami's best restaurants. The story is told by three people, Tung, Kathy, and Lyn (Tung's daughter) through small stories. Over the course of the book we learn about Tung's life in Vietnam, her challenges in a new country, visiting home again, and all of this through her cooking. Each chapter specifies some dishes that are then given as recipes at the end of the chapter. I have to say that I could not stop reading this and the entire time I kept wishing that I lived in Miami while Hy Vong was around and could experience the food that Tung made. Mango and Peppercorns is a story that we need as it highlights the troubles that immigrants experience while also showing how they make our world better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Josephine

    An interesting mix of coming to America stories, trying to get settled in, and stories from back in Vietnam. Also, stories from the perspective of the American she came to live with and run a restaurant with. I really felt for the author and who she lived with after she came to America along with running a restaurant together. Plus the stories of being in a refugee camp in Pennsylvania. What a trying time! The author's life before coming to America was no less challenging and seemed even more ch An interesting mix of coming to America stories, trying to get settled in, and stories from back in Vietnam. Also, stories from the perspective of the American she came to live with and run a restaurant with. I really felt for the author and who she lived with after she came to America along with running a restaurant together. Plus the stories of being in a refugee camp in Pennsylvania. What a trying time! The author's life before coming to America was no less challenging and seemed even more challenging. It makes me realize again just how easy I have it. This is an amazing story of courage and fortitude, mixed with love and joy. Lots of interesting recipes. My mouth was watering reading some of the recipes like flan with ginger and bread pudding with vanilla. Yummy! Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tiena (tlovesallthebooks)

    I received an advanced copy of Mango and Peppercorns from NetGalley and Chronicle Books, but I liked the description so much I preordered a Kindle copy. It was a pleasure to read Mango and Peppercorns. This little book is full of heart and of layers for the reader to uncover. In 1975 pregnant refugee Tung escapes the fall of Saigon and finds her way to America and her sponsor Kathy who also includes stories from her own life. Both women narrate this memoir with occasional inserts from Tung's dau I received an advanced copy of Mango and Peppercorns from NetGalley and Chronicle Books, but I liked the description so much I preordered a Kindle copy. It was a pleasure to read Mango and Peppercorns. This little book is full of heart and of layers for the reader to uncover. In 1975 pregnant refugee Tung escapes the fall of Saigon and finds her way to America and her sponsor Kathy who also includes stories from her own life. Both women narrate this memoir with occasional inserts from Tung's daughter as she grows. From there it follows the journey of a family and all the ways family finds us; it is the journey of two unlikely partners in a decades long friendship; it is the journey of a business and a gifted chef. Tung actually includes some of her most treasured recipes. This is the American dream in all its struggle and triumph - and much more. This is a big shot in the arm of Hy Vong - "hope".

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I was not as annoyed at this book as I could have been because it is mostly good intentioned and there was only one thing that bothered me - Kathy throws money OUT THE DOOR. Jesus Christ. Throw this woman on Millennial Money for Graham Stephan to set straight. That invigorated me. Tung should have dropped this woman as fast as the three men in her life, or her three brief encounters. The only bright side is Kathy is the "mostly good intentioned." I think the one problem with this book is it coul I was not as annoyed at this book as I could have been because it is mostly good intentioned and there was only one thing that bothered me - Kathy throws money OUT THE DOOR. Jesus Christ. Throw this woman on Millennial Money for Graham Stephan to set straight. That invigorated me. Tung should have dropped this woman as fast as the three men in her life, or her three brief encounters. The only bright side is Kathy is the "mostly good intentioned." I think the one problem with this book is it could have been better. Like a great story has access to so many more doors than a disaster story. The problem is the author did not bother OPENING THEM! And so 4 stars instead of 5. I did not read any of the recipes. I know I would never make them. I can't even make Chinese food. I guess another qualm (But it's not really a qualm), is how wild the story is yet it's real ? ! ? Most people make this stuff up to turn it into a story. I guess that's the all good things have a grain of truth adage.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lalitha

    While I loved the inclusion of Tung Nguyen's recipes in Mango and Peppercorns, I was less impressed by the format of this memoir, particularly because Tung's voice felt a bit muffled by Kathy's narrative. Some of the writing was somewhat salvific...particularly from Kathy's end, which seemed problematic to me. There was definitely a complex story here, but a lot of the details were glossed over (e.g. Tung's marriages, mother-daughter relationship between Tung and Phuoung) such that it was diffic While I loved the inclusion of Tung Nguyen's recipes in Mango and Peppercorns, I was less impressed by the format of this memoir, particularly because Tung's voice felt a bit muffled by Kathy's narrative. Some of the writing was somewhat salvific...particularly from Kathy's end, which seemed problematic to me. There was definitely a complex story here, but a lot of the details were glossed over (e.g. Tung's marriages, mother-daughter relationship between Tung and Phuoung) such that it was difficult to really connect to the narrative. I also really struggled with the stigmatization of mental health, as well as Kathy's insertion of her opinions related to the class stratification in Vietnamese culture, which felt pretty inappropriate to me. I think the relationship between Kathy and Tung was extremely co-dependent and dysfunctional but little is really said about that.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    What an interesting format to tell the story of two strong, but very different women, who forged an unlikely friendship and opened a flourishing restaurant together. After fleeing Vietnam after the war, Tung first meets Kathy when she opens her home to refugees. Kathy discovers Tung's remarkable skill in the kitchen and the two decide to capitalize on her talents while sharing her food with the community. We also learn about each of their backstories, where they grew up, and their personal histo What an interesting format to tell the story of two strong, but very different women, who forged an unlikely friendship and opened a flourishing restaurant together. After fleeing Vietnam after the war, Tung first meets Kathy when she opens her home to refugees. Kathy discovers Tung's remarkable skill in the kitchen and the two decide to capitalize on her talents while sharing her food with the community. We also learn about each of their backstories, where they grew up, and their personal histories with food. The recipes that accompany each chapter perfectly round out the reading experience and leave me craving Vietnamese fare. Both Kathy and Tung have unique stories and a powerful voice, along with Lyn. These three women have an incredible bond and have accomplished so much, despite the challenges they had to face.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joy Z

    I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is more of a memoir than a cook book, even though it did contain a recipe at the end of each chapter. I actually tested out two of the easier receipes, three if you count the Vietnamese dipping sauce as a recipe as well. The squash soup is just delicious, the curry, coconut milk and the crispy shallot combined wonderfully together. I will be using this recipe for a long time. The chicken curry with sw I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is more of a memoir than a cook book, even though it did contain a recipe at the end of each chapter. I actually tested out two of the easier receipes, three if you count the Vietnamese dipping sauce as a recipe as well. The squash soup is just delicious, the curry, coconut milk and the crispy shallot combined wonderfully together. I will be using this recipe for a long time. The chicken curry with sweet potato is also quite nice, the sweet potato made the curry very thick and chunky while providing a natural sweetness. I will be trying out other recipes if I ever get the other ingredients. One thing I found funny, is so many recipes contained this mysterious ingredient called "Flavour enhancer".... haha

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    "Mango and Peppercorns" is a story about the author's mother. In 1977, Tung Nguyen was a Vietnamese refugee that came to the US during the Vietnam War. Kathy was the American who took her and resettled her. Tung went to the United States without family, without knowing the language, and then survived by creating a restaurant people flocked loved. This story speaks to Tung's perseverance, and food was Tung's way of communicating. The most interesting thing is that Tung was able to create a unique "Mango and Peppercorns" is a story about the author's mother. In 1977, Tung Nguyen was a Vietnamese refugee that came to the US during the Vietnam War. Kathy was the American who took her and resettled her. Tung went to the United States without family, without knowing the language, and then survived by creating a restaurant people flocked loved. This story speaks to Tung's perseverance, and food was Tung's way of communicating. The most interesting thing is that Tung was able to create a unique family and community that was brought together by food. I think eating, especially during COVID, brings people together. Tung's story was told through food that was really a means of survival for her. I love when books include recipes because it adds another element of interest. In addition to the author's narrative, the book was chocked full of imagery and 20 delicious Vietnamese recipes. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/tun...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eli Sab

    One of my most favorite reads for this year! I love the way that it is written, reading this book felt like I was having coffee and talking face to face with Tung, Kathy and Lyn. Tung's life story is incredibly inspiring. Where most would just wallow in misery, she chose to fight for a place in a foreign land. Kathy's kindness is astounding. She willingly chose to let people live in her home. People who don't even know how speak her own native language. Much to learn from this book! Tung's resil One of my most favorite reads for this year! I love the way that it is written, reading this book felt like I was having coffee and talking face to face with Tung, Kathy and Lyn. Tung's life story is incredibly inspiring. Where most would just wallow in misery, she chose to fight for a place in a foreign land. Kathy's kindness is astounding. She willingly chose to let people live in her home. People who don't even know how speak her own native language. Much to learn from this book! Tung's resilience, Kathy's loyalty, Bà Noi and Grandma Peterson's unconditional love and lastly, the event/s that bridged the gap between Tung and Lyn. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for this free ARC. This review is posted of my own accord and with no monetary compensation from those names mentioned above and/or the rightful owners of this ARC.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily Grubbe

    Mango and Peppercorns by Tung Ngyuen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen was such a good surprise! It’s a memoir written by three women who share their experiences in this “unlikely family” (as the subtitle describes). Tung came to the US as a pregnant refugee from Vietnam and meets Kathy, her American host. They end up living together for a long time, co-parenting Tung’s daughter, Lyn, and running a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Miami. Their relationships with each other are complicated, but Mango and Peppercorns by Tung Ngyuen, Katherine Manning, and Lyn Nguyen was such a good surprise! It’s a memoir written by three women who share their experiences in this “unlikely family” (as the subtitle describes). Tung came to the US as a pregnant refugee from Vietnam and meets Kathy, her American host. They end up living together for a long time, co-parenting Tung’s daughter, Lyn, and running a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Miami. Their relationships with each other are complicated, but beautiful, and this is a really well written memoir that describes this. Highly recommend reading this if you like memoirs and lots of delicious food references! Thanks to NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Add a review

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

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.