Helen Au is a natural born storyteller. Those who follow her on Instagram constantly share her content, not only for the beautiful imagery, but for the intimate, detailed memories of her childhood that she shares in every post.
Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and always poignant, Helen's words usually feature her parents, first generation immigrants from Vietnam, and the sacrifices they made for their 3 children.
I couldn't wait to talk to Helen and hear more about her parents, so imagine my surprise when Helen shared that, at the time of our interview, she was in fact estranged from her parents. And as Helen worked on finding her way back to a healthy relationship with her family, it was food that paved the way. Food, it turns out, was what bonded little Helen to her mother and what enabled Helen to speak of her parents with so much love and respect through their estrangement.
In this episode we learn from Helen that food is truly a love language. Food is the thread that tightly binds together generations through the complexities of life, especially the life of young woman searching for her identity as an adult and an Asian-American.
Update from Helen Au, July 2021
I interviewed Helen again in July 2021 as part of my Summer Retrospective Series. We discussed her big move, how she can fit all her belonging in 2.5 suitcases, and why she chose a minimalist lifestyle. We also talk about why I hired her to consult with me on my Pinterest strategy for the podcast. Finally, and definitely most importantly, we talk about her ongoing relationship with her mother.
- How the BLM movement prompted Helen to begin a search for her heritage
- Helen's estrangement from her family AND - an update!
- The story of Helen's family's immigration to the US
- Helen's grandmother's experience as a mother of 10 and her mother's experience as 1 of 10 siblings
- Dad's professional cooking in restaurants vs. Mom's homemade cooking
- Memories of Pho and Pineapple Buns
- Veganizing Pho
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