Noodles for Books

I recently attended Noodles for Books, a special fundraiser dinner for Room to Read, a global organisation and registered charity in Australia which seeks to transform the lives of children in Asia and Africa, with a focus on literacy and gender equality in education.

One in five adults worldwide are illiterate, the majority in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Of the illiterate, nearly two-thirds are women. Room to Read’s work includes a Literacy program, which helps to develop reading skills and foster the habit of reading in primary school aged children; a Girls’ Education program, which supports girls to complete secondary school and learn life skills that will give them the best opportunity to reach their full potential; and a Book Publishing program which supports local publishers to produce books created by local authors and illustrators, which are distributed to school libraries to ensure children have access to age-appropriate, culturally relevant reading materials.

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The Noodles for Books event raised money to go towards creating local language children’s books in Vietnam. Long-time readers of The Food Pornographer know my PhD was in children’s literature. I have a large collection of children’s books and still enjoy reading them. I’d hate to imagine growing up without books.

Tam, a TFP reader and co-leader of the Room to Read Perth Chapter got in touch to tell me about the charity and the Noodles for Books event she was organising. I was keen to contribute in some way and accepted Tam’s invitation to attend Noodles for Books, take photographs and blog about the event.

The event was a sell-out, held at Mama Tran on Milligan Street in Perth. Tickets were AU$50 each and included a three-course Vietnamese meal and drinks, including water and soft drinks, cider by The Cidery and Olive Farm wines. There were silent auctions and raffles, door prizes, and live music by local muso Kristian Jones.

DSC_3222Jonny’s the guy with the microphone who’ll call out your name or number when your food is ready.

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DSC_3225-2The communal tables made for a very social dinner, with groups of friends eating together, and at my table, friendly strangers brought together by a great cause.

Kristian Jones Kristian Jones

A signed copy of Secrets of The Red Lantern was one of the raffle prizes One of the silent auction items was a signed copy of Secrets of The Red Lantern.

More raffle prizes from the event More raffle prizes from the event

The entree was served to share: vegetarian and meat rice paper rolls served with dipping sauces, fried spring rolls and chicken wings.

Vegetarian and meat rice paper rolls Entree: vegetarian and meat rice paper rolls, served with dipping sauces (not pictured)

Fried spring rollsEntree: Fried spring rolls

Chicken wingsEntree: Chicken wings – my favourite of the entrees, crunchy and juicy and worth burning fingertips for!

I’ve eaten at Mama Tran a few times now and am always impressed with the efficiency of the staff and the lightning speed at which the food comes out of the kitchen. For main course, we chose from Mama Tran’s range of noodle dishes, and as expected, the Mama Tran production line had us all served and fed in no time.

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The self-service condiment station, with sauces, fresh herbs and lemon wedges The self-service condiment station, with sauces, fresh herbs and lemon wedges.

Rice vermicelli with frilled chicken and spring rolls My main course: rice vermicelli with grilled chicken and spring rolls – first time I had this particular dish, absolutely fantastic. I’ll definitely order it again.

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DSC_3352-2Tam Le, Room to Read Perth chapter co-leader and organiser of Noodles for Books.

Black sticky rice pudding Black sticky rice pudding – a salty-sweet ending to the meal. Coffee and tea were available for those who wanted it.

A couple of things I love about Mama Tran: 1) I can stock up on Asian groceries while I'm there and 2) They have my favourite soft drink, A&W root beer A couple of things I love about Mama Tran: 1) I can stock up on Asian groceries while I’m there and 2) They have my favourite soft drink in the fridge – A&W root beer.

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It was a fun night with tasty food and it felt great to dine in the company of a diverse yet like-minded crowd, all happy to support this worthy cause. I kept thinking about my favourite books from childhood, the new worlds, ideas and words I learned from reading them, and how they stirred my imagination. If more children get the chance to experience that, it can only be a good thing.

More photos from Noodles for Books
See more photographs from the event at my Flickr set – Noodles for Books.

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The Noodles for Books event raised $2887 on the night, but there’s still time to enter the online raffle by making a donation of $10 or more.
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Find out more about Room to Read

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Mama Tran
Shop 6/36-40 Milligan St, Perth WA 6000
Telephone: 9481 6688
Monday to Friday 7.30am to 4pm (kitchen closes at 2.30pm)
Thursday and Friday 5.30pm to 9pm

Mama Tran Carillon City
A new Mama Tran outlet has just opened this week at the Level 3 Eatery in Carillon City on Murray Street, Perth. I went there for lunch with my friend Prez on Tuesday. Thumbs up from both of us!

duo_mamatran3From Mama Tran Carillon City: special rice noodle soup with beef; fry egg noodles with braised pork, pork mince and prawns

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  • Cindy M

    Great cause! Being illiterate is a terrible thing; my in-laws were mostly illiterate, as were my grandparents. I’m an avid reader (mostly non-fiction), when not working on my writing.

    • Cindy, I must admit I don’t read as much as I used to – mainly because I hate lugging books around but would have to, as my main time to read would be on my daily commute to/from work. I will eventually get an e-reader of some sort, I think.

  • The food all looks great and who doesn’t love noodles. What an amazing cause Cynthia!

  • Wen Yang Lee

    Lovely! Great to know the night went well :)! Despite not attending, I can see the importance of this cause!

    • Wen, it was very well organised and with such delicious food, it was a total pleasure to be there.

  • Frank D’Silva

    Excellent fundraiser and well written article with good photographs.

  • laura wilde

    I live in Richmond Virginia and this kind of offering is pretty standard in Vietnamese restaurants, I always get my vermicelli 1/2 BBQ pork 1/2 spring roll and they give you a side of fish sauce to douse it in! It usually comes on a bed of lettuce and pickled shreds of cucumber and carrot. Mixed with a dash of siracha and hoisin its umami to die for!! I love how super light it is but full of flavor, its what I order on a hot day when pho sounds amazing but too hot. Love your blog BTW, easily my favorite :)