The Localist

Food for the soul


Sunday is my favourite day, when routine and work are thrown out the window in favour of a different kind of experience – often revolving around food. A few Sundays ago I went with my dad and a few mates (Sally, Rommel and Raz) to celebrate Buddha’s mum’s birthday with a vegan lunch at the Lien Hoa Temple in Marrickville.

My mates aren’t Buddhist, nor are they Vietnamese, but I invited them because I knew the food would be great, and like me they weren’t likely to pass up a free meal. Sally and Rommel had just returned from a two-week holiday in Vietnam so I thought it would be fun to hear all about it over Vietnamese food and also give them the opportunity to impress everyone by showing off the two phrases they learned in the whole time they were there: “Ớt Tỏi” (fresh chilli) and “Cảm Ơn” (thank you). I’m sure they learned more but these were the most important, obviously!

When we walked in through to the backyard of the temple, it was heaving, like a big Vietnamese family bbq, but instead of sausages on the hot plate there were big cauldrons of soup and bowls of this mysterious sweet and sour green worm jelly dessert drink (tastes much nicer than it looks). It helped being with foreigners (aka non-Viets) because as soon as we got there people started putting bowls of yummy vegan rice vermicelli soup into our hands. We were also given vegan pancakes, which were delicious. The food was made by a lovely bunch of women who were there serving it up with friendly smiles.

While I wouldn’t say I’m religious, I am curious and have tagged along to different churches, mosques and temples over the years. They all seem to share similar themes: love, community and a kind of belief-ness (spirituality?) that is hard to describe. What I love about this temple is that it’s so welcoming and warm. It’s run by an all-female team, consisting of the Abbess and two nuns – all of whom live there. My family has been involved with it since it began in 1997. My dad’s mate made the 3-d mural in the backyard, another of his mates sculpted the Buddha statue in the front, and they all bring their families on days like this to catch up with friends and enjoy the atmosphere.

The Abbess is wonderful and all-smiles, even though I forgot to greet her in the proper way (I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to holler “Hallo!!!” to the boss of a religious institution), and after not visiting for many years she still remembered me and spoke with my friends. She didn’t mind Raz asking her whether she missed having hair on her head or why she decided to become a nun (“like, was it because you didn’t fancy boys?”) and seemed to enjoy the inane questions. Another nun came by to give us all “lucky” oranges and sticky rice – boy did we feel special! We left with our bellies full and some souvenirs to boot.

The temple offers a vegan lunch in the garden every Sunday, followed by Vietnamese lessons for non-Viets like Sally and Rommel – everybody is welcome!






One Response to Food for the soul

  1. Quan hoa minh says:

    Nam mo a di da phat bach su co con muon biet hien gio su co don chua ve noi nao ma con tim kg thay vay su co co the cho con biet con se de lai email ten cua con chung nao su co nhan duoc xin bao cho con biet de con den chua tham su email ten con quang hoa minh neu ai co vo magng nay co biet chua voi ve dau xin cho hoa minh biet chab thanh cam ta


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