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A street food experience

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Part of the commotion on Saigon’s streets is due to the numerous food vendors and cooks that line the pavements. In corners, next to lamp poles, in shelters made of parked bikes, people squat or sit on little stools and cook mammoth pots of soup and noodles and rice. They cook over fires made in hollow logs and tin cans – or with electricity through wires plugged into utility poles. Vietnamese legs seem significantly more flexible than American ones. Not only the cooks but their customers bend and crouch effortlessly and seem to occupy much less space than one would think.

We left early this morning to walk through areas filled with neighborhood cooks and customers having breakfast at their “spots.” We walked through food markets filled with vendors scaling fish and chopping pig’s tails and sorting lotus seeds. One woman was an artist at preparing pineapple. Our guide spoke proudly of the Vietnamese culture and cuisine and how nothing is considered inedible. They eat insects and rats, snake and dog, ears and feet. Pig placenta (bottom of first photo below) is a particular - and expensive - delicacy. The cuisine strives to balance yin and yang (we’re a little confused about what is hot and what is cool), and a medicinal value is attributed to most foods. We were party to an English conversation between a Japanese guest and a Vietnamese tour guide about which plant leaves make you poo-poo and which make you pee-pee. She purchased a large bag of the former.

Lunch was at Ngon, an elegant restaurant that houses many “upscale” street vendors under one stunning roof. We loved sitting down at a table in a beautiful space. Before serving the bountiful meal, the waiter asked if any of us were vegetarians – a surprising number of heads nodded yes!!

Posted by HopeEakins 20:23 Archived in Vietnam

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