A Colby Community Website for ST297, Fall 2018

Author: Thu Le

The Inauthentic Hamburger: How War and Globalization Changed a Vietnamese City’s Food Scene

Having studied abroad in the United States for years, one of the many kinds of food that I miss from Nha Trang, my hometown in Vietnam, is a hamburger. This may sound odd to you; after all, the US is the birthplace and global capital of hamburgers. The truth is, the hamburgers I ate in Vietnam bore very little resemblance to the ones served at McDonald’s here in the US. And although that means the hamburger I had was inauthentic, it did not stop me from enjoying the dish. In fact, it stirred my curiosity about how the hamburger came to Nha Trang, and what the recent arrival of McDonald’s and other fast food chains means for the future food scene in my hometown.

A typical hamburger in Nha Trang

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The Sweet Joy and Burden of Desserts

One day in my freshman year, my friend and I were passing by the dessert shelf in Dana dining hall after finishing our dinner. Looking at the neatly stacked, creamy whoopie pies in the tray, my friend sighed: “I wish I could have another one, but I shouldn’t”. Then, a brilliant idea struck me: she could open up the whoopie pie and take just the less creamy half of it. “Don’t worry”, I reassured her, “someone else shares your concern and will be relieved to find the half you left”. I was making the suggestion mostly to indulge my nonconformist tendency, but at the time, only a month after moving to this country, I noticed the contradictions surrounding desserts in the United States. Many people here delight in finishing up their meals with a sweet treat, and yet feel guilty about it afterward. And while stores here are full of sugary brownies and cookies, you’ll also find as many – if not more – sugar-free snacks. Although we recognize that excessive consumption of sugary desserts like pies and cookies contributes to obesity and health problems, the deeply rooted cultural and personal significance of desserts makes it difficult to abandon or modify them.

Whoopie pies, the state treat of Maine. Source: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/chocolate-biscoff-whoopie-pies/

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