Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vietnam: Food

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One of the great joys of travel is getting to taste the foods of different cultures; above is Vietnam's most famous culinary contribution, the pho noodle, in this case, in a beef broth. Flavorful, filling and fabulous! It was my first breakfast in Vietnam, at a booth in the Ben Thanh market, seen below along with the regular spicing bowls you will find anyplace Vietnamese food is served:

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Among the other foods you'll see at the market, or probably any market, include fresh fruits, in this case dragonfruit, which belies its bland white flesh specked with black, coffee--of which the Vietnamese are justly proud, for its smooth, non-bitter flavor--and seafood.

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While I was on the beach at Mui Ne, I particularly enjoyed the Thai Hoa resort restaurant's scallops, and once ate about four pounds of grilled clams without bothering to take a picture.

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At a local Mui Ne restaurant, I ordered red snapper grilled in the local manner, and got this--delicious, but I kind of doubt traditional Vietnam cuisine involved aluminum foil:

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It was awesome, as I think fresh red snapper is one of the great delights of the sea. Local beef, the one time I had it, was tasty but a little tough. This is "five tastes beef":

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Hai Ba Trung in Saigon has a collection of fine dining places reminiscent of Xintiandi (look here). I ate at the upscale French place called Camargue, with a final tab approaching fifty bucks. However, I followed foie gras with a confit of crispy baby pig leg with seasonal vegetables, and it was scrumptious.

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On the other end of the spectrum was the 20,000 VND ($1) for a delicious street sandwich which saw some kind of wurst or sausage-y meat laid in a baguette with cucumber, tomato, Chinese parsley, onion, spicy Vietnamese vegetable and some sauces.

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What else do you finish a meal with but dessert?! Mostly, you should choose fresh fruit, especially if durian is on offer. Or durian ice cream otherwise. Bananas are still more popular in Vietnam though, and I had banana fritters, taro ice cream with chocolate sauce for desert after polishing off the crab spring rolls and goat meat curry at Nha Toi, near the War Remnants Museum.

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Follow that with a cup of coffee and it brings this food post, and my series of posts on Vietnam to an end. I didn't really talk about the people I met, like Eno and Wen and Loc and Mai, Gil and Andre and the Canadian farmers, eh? I think I got my money's worth out of five nights here, but I didn't get to do some of the things I would like to, so that just sets me up for another trip to Vietnam. Perhaps working south from Hanoi ... I hear they have some great restaurants there.

Meanwhile, tam biet, Vietnam, hen gap lai!

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