Parsons School of Design

BFA Communication Design

Thesis 2013

My Nguyen
The Nguyen Cookbook
My Nguyen
The Nguyen Cookbook

The Nguyen Family Cookbook is a collection of recipes that I learned while watching my nanny and my mom cook. The book shows what my family, originally from Northern Vietnam and currently living in the South, typically eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also quotes from members of my family on why they like particular dishes. The book expresses what Vietnamese homecooked food means to me. It is aimed towards those who value tradition and homemade food. The recipes are simple and direct, aimed towards an American audience who has some experience in cooking and is interested in Vietnamese food. The book is in the style of a coffee table book which includes my photographs of the food I cooked and bold typographic treatments. To give the book more personality, I added playful illustrations of my family members. There is a saying in Vietnam that if you keep your house clean, you will have a comfortable living space; if you keep the dishes clean you will enjoy the food more. My mom only buys white dishes because she said they look neat and clean. All of this inspired me to take a clean style for the photography, typography, and also the layout of the book. The cursive typography chosen for the book is inspired by cursive handwriting that students learn when learning to write in Vietnamese school. Although the book is about traditional Vietnamese cuisine, each family has its own take on the food, based on recipes learned and passed down through generations. The recipes are not only unique to my family, but also to the area of Vietnamese cookbooks in English. The value of traditional flavor is not compromised in favor of a ‘fusion’ style to win over Western audiences. I think that this more authentic approach will ultimately attract more readers and, hopefully, increase awareness of true Vietnamese flavor.


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