I don’t often take time to think about this, but I love food.

It’s not that i just like eating, but I love eating. Eating is my reason for being. When I finish lunch, I am thinking about dinner. Even if I am stuffed to the gills, I will find room for something tasty if it passes me by. I fail, miserably, at diets.

It’s my mother. It’s my family. It’s my heritage.

Even before my mother entered culinary school, she was a cook. My earliest memories are being woken up on a Saturday by my brother jumping on my bed (even though he’s the older one) or my mom screaming for us from the kitchen. I would go downstairs, in my pajamas, and make eggs rolls.

I am the youngest, so I was only allowed the job of using a flour paste to seal and finish off the egg rolls. My brother did the mixing of meat, onions, shredded carrots and salt and pepper. My sister got to load them up. Even now, we fill the same roles.

Our kitchen was ugly. grey marble floors, pale yellow countertops and oak cabinets. But it was ours. It was — and is — the place where we gather.

We would make hundreds of egg rolls. We would eat some now, and half-fry some for later dinner parties. Depending on the party, there were plenty of other things to be done. Then, after a days worth of cooking, the house would fill. The adults would get the dining room, and the kids would take over the kitchen. We would eat. And eat. Then talk. Then eat some more.

Food was what brought the Vietnamese community together in my small Midwestern town. Food is the thing that links people far away from home. The taste takes you home for just a split second.

This is where I became a foodie. In my mother’s kitchen, sealing eggs rolls, or making chocolate mousse for an army.