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

Chronicle. Mar. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781797202242. $24.95. COOKING
This multinarrator memoir shines with the power of resilience, friendship, family, and food to bring together two women from different backgrounds and inspire them to build Hy Vong, an award-winning Vietnamese restaurant in Miami. Vietnamese refugee Tung Nguyen and her American-born host, Kathy Manning, are opposite personalities, with Tung being as staunch and practical as Kathy is free-spirited. Their dynamic is captured in this memoir, also cowritten by Lyn Nguyen (Tung’s daughter) and food writer Elisa Ung, as each chapter is told from Tung’s and Kathy’s alternating perspectives documenting decades of partnership. It is easy to see how their differences helped contribute to the great success of their restaurant, with Tung cooking delicious Vietnamese soups and comfort foods and Kathy navigating the ins and outs of the business. Woven throughout the book are mouth-watering recipes of either Vietnamese or Swedish origin that tie into the chapters and add another level to this dual memoir.
VERDICT A unique contribution to culinary literature that would be a great addition to a collection of food memoirs, but may not stand out to readers looking for recipes alone.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing