March 5, 2009

Vietnam: HCMC Street Food

I can't just eat Western food or the well-known Vietnamese food for the next year. It's time to branch out and start pointing to things that look good. Sounds easy, I know, but over here you never know what you are going to get or what that large brown lump in the corner is that she keeps plopping over everyone's rice. Branching out could end with a bowl full of chicken feet but I am trying it out!

The other day I had a Vietnamese-type desert from a moving food stall. Thick coconut milk and sticky rice in a little plastic bag to go. Delicious. I can tell it's going to be all about recognizing the food stalls that serve the food you like. For example, this stand consists of many large metal pots. Last week I passed a lady who was sitting on the sidewalk surround by people. I figured whatever she was making had to be pretty good. I watched for a little while to make sure I wasn't getting myself into something funky and then I placed my order, which means I point and say "same" (the one English word every Vietnamese knows). She was throwing together rice paper chunks, mango shreds, spices and eggs from every direction into a plastic bowl and mixing. Then scooping it into a plastic bag to go with chop sticks. Her food stall consisted of two baskets that hung from each end of a thin piece of wood that lays over the shoulder. Since I hardly speak Vietnamese I call it the Vietnamese mango salad. And it is the most delicious snack ever. So far my branching out has turned into a great success.

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