In Pham Ti Hoai's lovely collection of short stories, Sunday Menu, the title tale has a hapless girl trying hard to keep the peace between her ailing grandmother and her mother.
On the second day of the previous New Year, Mother made a special effort to cook a mushrooms-in-aspic dish and told me to take it to Grandma. When Grandma upturned the dish onto a plate, the sloppy jelly wobbled but luckily it stayed in one piece. Normally, Mother's aspic jelly is so runny that I could faint just looking at it. I was pleased and waited for Grandma to eat it, but she didn't. Instead, she said, 'Take it back to your mother and tell her to use a fine cloth as a sieve to drain the pork skin first; the peppers hold be toasted lightly - swirl them around twice only in a hot pan; the mushrooms should be pared right to the base; and tell her to stop trying to poison me with indiscriminate use of gourmet powder.' I threw the lot into Hoan Kiem Lake on the way home but told Mother that Grandma had enjoyed it. I wanted to bring Mother and Grandma a little closer; cyclo-driver food served on a red lacquered tray would mark the beginning of a new trend in culinary fashion.