Danny and I feel blessed these days. Blessed, I tell you.
For the past few days, our friends Diane Cu and Todd Porter (who write a website called White on Rice Couple) have been staying with us. They're here not just because they are friends — a simple visit would still feel like joy to us — but also because they are here to film us.
Yep. They're filming us.
Diane and Todd are some of the most talented people we've ever met. They take beautiful photographs, lead Vietnamese culinary tours of Orange County, make enticing pastries, grow a magnificent garden, and adore each other. (Of all their many talents, that's probably their most important one.) We were a little in awe of them before we met them last year, at the BlogHer Food convention. They gave a practical, insightful talk about learning the camera and how to take better photographs with it. (The photographs you see on this site are in some part due to that talk.) A couple of months later, we had the chance to hang out with them at the Kingsford University experience. That's where we became their friends, instead of these fellow bloggers who were a little in awe of them.
We're really blessed. We adore these two.
It's not just because they're so talented. (Check this out if you want to see some of their qualifications.) We adore Diane and Todd because they are mensches. (Don't know what a mensch is? You should. Look at this.)
These two give of their time and expertise freely. They laugh and expect the best of life. They are kind-hearted and brutally funny. They work together like oil and vinegar, emulsified.
They also really like pork. That's another reason we're friends.
So, for the last two days, Diane and Todd have been staying with us, waking up early as the kid, and jumping into the day. They are here to film a promo trailer for our cookbook. (We'll share it here when it's ready.) We have been cooking and laughing, following our toddler daughter around the garden, and then doing it again, in multiple takes.
We can't wait to see this movie.
Yesterday, we wrapped filming. Big hugs all around and celebration. We only had 30 minutes before Danny had to leave for work and when we were going to take Lu to her afternoon pre-school. Lunch?
Diane and Todd moved like a warm wind into the kitchen and shooed us away. They pulled out pans, grated ginger, bashed lemongrass, diced up vegetables, and moved through that space like the experts they are.
They were making us a spring roll feast.
We all sat at the table outside on the porch, under the trees gently swaying in the breeze. We dug in. Diane showed us how to massage the spring roll wrappers under the water until they were pliable. Todd showed us how to pile the cilantro and mint, the basil and sprouts onto the bottom third of the wrapper. Lettuce. Peas. Cucumber. Whatever we wanted. On top, before we moved our fingers (not as nimbly as Diane and Todd) up the wrapper until it was tight, we piled pieces of this seared pork, marinated in ginger and garlic. After a moment of waiting, we took our first bites.
Diane explained that in Vietnam people take whatever is leftover from the day, whatever was available at the market, and roll it up into spring rolls. Since the rolls are mostly filled full of vegetables and herbs, these are wonderfully health. Having a spring roll party like this was communal eating, hands reaching, bumping, grabbing for more, the conversation rolling over each other's hands and laughter. Our favorite joy.
I wish I could tell you more about what Diane and Todd did to that pork to make it so delicious. We weren't in the kitchen. They asked us to simply enjoy.
(Michael Ruhlman wrote a moving post about visiting Diane and Todd in their garden in California, where they enjoyed a similar spring roll feast.)
Enjoy we did. Both the company and the food. Give me a spring roll with that marinated pork, handed to me by Diane and Todd, and I'm happy.
Like I said, we're blessed.