Since you’ve been following my vocal drama prior to my public Ph.D. dissertation defense, you know that last Friday was the big day. And it went well – I am now officially Dr. K, as someone in my department keeps calling me to tease me.
My lab threw me a wonderful party afterwards, and I’d just like to share with you the wonderful group of people that I get to work with every day. That’s me looking all fancy in my suit, and my boss is in the knitted sweater:
After the defense, they surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet of lillies and roses, after having secretly called my wife about my favorite flowers (actually, those are amaryllis, but they weren’t available this time of the year and lillies are a close second) – I almost started bawling right there.
On to the party! Look at that cake! Matched perfectly to my blouse color, huge, half chocolate, half vanilla, from my favorite Italian bakery in Cleveland, Presti’s.
Of course there was also champagne (my boss almost hit his wife with the cork…), and being awesome, my lab members ordered food from High Thai’d, the restaurant I proposed in. There was pad thai, broccoli beef, a chicken dish and shumai, my personal favorites. And a bunch of snacks, lots of beer (even Dutch and Belgian kinds for my picky European sensibilities) and other drinks.
The party lasted about 3.5 hours, and afterwards we transferred everything to a friend’s house and kept going (many a White Russian were involved) into the early morning. I woke up very sick again, but it was more than worth it. I had an amazing day with amazing people and delicious food – I couldn’t ask for more.
Now, since this is a food blog, let’s focus on che dau do: I don’t consider myself supremely superstitious, but I guess I have a tendency to believe in positive superstitions – I make wishes when I blow eyelashes, I have a lucky charm my parents gave me in high school, etc. Black cats,broken mirrors and the like don’t scare me one bit though! One of the positive superstitions I readily adopted since joining this lab is the eating of che dau do, literally translated from the Vietnamese as “sweet red bean soup”.
Do, the word for “red”, also means luck, and therefore red beans are eaten before exams and other big challenges one faces. Both my boss and our lab technician are Vietnamese, and I was presented with a big, warm bowl of che dau do on Thursday, with instructions to eat half for dinner, half for breakfast. I very happily complied, because che dau do is one of my favorite ever desserts. While che means “sweet soup”, this is really more of a pudding, especially once the dish cools down. The pudding is sweet, satisfying, and definitely has brought me luck whenever I’ve eaten it.
So here is the secret recipe as followed by my lab technician’s family:
- 1 cup dried azuki beans
- 5 cups of water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- vanilla extract to taste
- 14 oz coconut milk
- 1/2 cup tapioca jelly cut into strips
1. Soak beans overnight in 5 cups of water.
2. Bring to a boil, add sugar and cook for about 1 hour at a simmer.
3. Turn off heat, stir in vanilla extract, coconut milk and tapioca jelly, and let cool.
4. Gobble down and feel extra-lucky!