I've decided that themed pot-lucks (called 'pot-licks' by me when I was younger - it made more sense, for you were to lick the pot at the end because it was so tasty!) are the only way to go. With Vietnamese smells mingling with strains of the accordion, it could not have been a better night.
Rice paper, both edible and not, has been used for centuries in East and South-East Asia. The kind you can eat has a tough, leathery feel (although it is translucent) until it is dipped in water. It then softens, forming the perfect parcel for either sweet or savory fillings.
So we sat around, filled our stomachs with wrapped goodness, jiggly green pudding(ish) . . . thing (although apparently authentic), and melty-in-our-mouth almond cookies. There were also wasabi peas, candy corn, and wine. An odd mix, but a delightful one, mirroring our odd (yet delightful) conversation throughout the night. Potlucks seem to inspire great dialogue and great food and my conclusion from the evening: we must hold them more often, for they are good for the soul.
Vietnamese Rice Paper Wraps
(adapted from Epicurious)
Traditional Vinegar Sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fermented fish sauce (nam pla)*
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño chili with seeds
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/8 c. sugar
3 tbs. fermented fish sauce (nam pla)