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nakji

eG Foodblog: nakji - Our Girl in Hanoi

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Happy New Year, and welcome to my blog!

Since I’m blogging at South East Asia Standard Time, or GMT +07:00, I’ll be writing on a bit of a time-delay for those following me in North America and Europe. I’ll try to hang around at odd hours to answer any questions, but please bear with me.

Although the Year of the Pig doesn’t technically start until Tet in February, the Pig decorations all over town have been quietly urging me to dedicate this New Year’s blog to pork. So though it’s still the Year of the Dog (and this being Hanoi, I could do a full week featuring food based on our canine friends), I will try to feature as many iterations of piggy goodness as possible.

That being said, I couldn’t do a blog from Hanoi without featuring pho, so I shall allow incursions by other meats as well.

First, a bit about myself. As you may have guessed by this intro, I’m an unapologetic meat-eater, a full-time ESL teacher, and a food porn voyeur. If you doubt this last bit, the next time you’re lurking in the “Dinner: What Did We Make?” check the bottom for “Users browsing this thread” for my tag. I rarely post, though, since these days I rarely cook.

I moved to Vietnam in April of this year. Before that, I lived for almost four years in Incheon, South Korea. I’m originally from Halifax, Canada. I’m planning a slow circumnavigation of the Earth. After Sazji’s blog, Istanbul is on my radar.

This week, I hope to show lots of kinds of food – lots of Vietnamese, some French, and I plan to cook Korean at least once. I mostly eat in restaurants or order in these days, as I’ve been working 12 hour days, six days a week since April. As well, you can eat tasty and well-prepared food on the street for often less than a dollar – so I limit my cooking at home to when I want traditional Western food, or one of my Korean favourites.

My husband and I decided to move to Vietnam when we visited here on vacation in 2003. It’s hard to say why – I mean, what can I say that Anthony Bourdain or Graham Greene haven’t said better? We decided to come on vacation after a conversation with friends in Seoul that went like this:

Nakji: So where did you guys go on vacation last year?

Shannon: We went to Cambodia and Vietnam. Cambodia was wonderful. Vietnam was horrible. Everybody there is out to rip you off. You’ll get your bag stolen on the first day.

Nakji: How was the food?

Shannon: It was better in Vietnam.

Decision made.

Our first day in Hanoi, we got up at 7 am (being used to working at 6 am in Korea, this was considered a lie-in), went out on the street, and sat down and almost cried. All around us, ladies with baskets full of fresh fruit and freshly baked bread swirled around us, while pork buns wheeled by in glass cases. We resolved then and there to move as soon as we crawled out of student loan debt.

Fast Forward three years, and we’re here, and all the sudden, everyone has cell phones. No matter, because the food hasn’t changed.

I started off my day with a great cup of coffee made with a Christmas present from a friend: Bodum! Note the Year of the Pig decoration.

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I must admit, in the morning I haven’t got the patience to use a traditional Vietnamese drip, nor does it yield nearly the volume of coffee I need in the morning. I do use local coffee, however, my favourite being from a local roaster – Paris Mai blend from Café Mai, which I hope to visit later this week. It looks like dark chocolate, and tastes like it, too.

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After coffee and rallying my husband, we went to one of our favourite cafes for brunch. This place is (curiously, considering it’s Vietnamese-run) New Zealand themed, and serves excellent and cheap food. Like many places in Vietnam, modern restaurant practices like using ready-made mayonnaise or hollandaise are eschewed. Everything is made fresh in the kitchen.

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We had fresh juice, something as a reformed Canadian, I cannot get over the luxury of having. Fresh-squeezed OJ for me, and mixed fruit for Peter.

To eat, Eggs Benedict for him, and a sort of club sandwich for me.

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Finished with carrot cake, which had a degree of moistness which is hard to find in café cake in Asia.

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We especially like the atmosphere in the place, and since they have wi-fi, it’s a great place to while away a few hours e-mailing and taking care of sundry internet chores.

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We ran into a co-worker and his wife there, who related a hilarious tale concerning dog-foot congee. His wife had recently given birth, so her mother sent over some rice porridge with dog feet in it, for strength. My British co-worker was appalled – “What will the dog think?” he told his wife. She didn’t think the family pet had much of a say in the matter, but he declared he sent it back with a stern note to his mother-in-law. When he got up to use the bathroom, I leaned over to her and asked, “So did you eat it later?”

“Of course.” she laughed.

Right, on that note, I must crawl off to bed. I've been up for almost 24 hours now...when I come back, I'll show you our New Year's Eve feast.

Happy New Year to all!

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Greetings from your old corner of the world. Welcome to blogland. :smile: I have become increasingly fascinated with Vietnamese cuisine and look forward to your reports during the first week of the year.

....Pig.... mmmm!

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I also look forward to reading the rest of this blog because Vietnam is beautiful. One question: Do they make banh mi or something similar in Hanoi, or is that strictly Saigon food? What kinds of sandwiches, if any, are traditional in Hanoi and environs?

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Well, since you raised the subject of dog meat as food -- which is one of the big East-West cultural divides -- in your intro, may I suggest that you might as well run into the breach now that it's open?

Did you have any adverse reactions upon seeing dog meat served for the first time? Have you gotten adjusted to it since, or did you need any adjusting in the first place?

Do the Vietnamese (as I understand the South Koreans do) make any effort to mollify the sensibilities of Western visitors by not mentioning dog dishes on English-language restaurant menus, but offering them to those in the know anyway?

And how is dog meat consumed anyway? Like beef or pork, I assume?

(Cue Monty Python sketch.)

Looking forward to the rest of this week.

--Sandy, born in 1958, the Year of the Dog

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One question: Do they make banh mi or something similar in Hanoi, or is that strictly Saigon food? What kinds of sandwiches, if any, are traditional in Hanoi and environs?

Banh Mi are very popular here! I'd love to get one right now, actually......hmmm....

There seem to be two styles of banh mi available in Hanoi. First is the old style - a traditional baguette, stuffed with "pate", or chinese sausages, mysterious meat paste, mayo, pickled veg, etc. These can be found on residential streets like mine, still being sold from glass cases. The second kind are new and are basically Turkish-style doner kebabs. Pork roasts on a central spit, and a carver hacks some off for you, add its it to a baguette or a wedge of flat bread, and tops it with pickled veg, lettuce, tomato, chili sauce and ranch dressing.

I know.

How this style became popular, I'll never know, but everyone refers to that as banh mi as well. The distribution of these places, if it's not already bizarre enough for you, is spearheaded by the Geothe Institute. There's a stall outside my work that sells them for around 10,000 VND (16,000 VND = 1 USD). I often have one for dinner, although it's not the best one I've had in Hanoi.

Which of course I will be visiting this week.

Perhaps today.

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Did you have any adverse reactions upon seeing dog meat served for the first time? Have you gotten adjusted to it since, or did you need any adjusting in the first place?

Do the Vietnamese (as I understand the South Koreans do) make any effort to mollify the sensibilities of Western visitors by not mentioning dog dishes on English-language restaurant menus, but offering them to those in the know anyway?

And how is dog meat consumed anyway? Like beef or pork, I assume?

I don't have any objections on moral grounds to eating dog, but I must say that I find the roast dog carcasses outside the markets to be quite gruesome looking. The first time I saw one, I thought, "Hey....that's not a pig!" :biggrin:

In Korea, where it was also popular, it's considered a "health" food which people, especially men, eat for "stamina". I never found anyone there to be particularly shy discussing it with me - in fact many Koreans urged me to try it. The restaurants in the cities did couch the term in euphemisms, and the dog restaurant next to our house there billed its fare as "yeongyang tang" or "nutritious soup", which I understand was in reaction to the pre-1988 Olympics outcry.

The Vietnamese make no pretense at all, and everywhere I go, I see "thit cho" signs - dog meat. The markets have them pre-roasted. My students love to try and get a rise out of me by suggesting I eat dog, to which I always reply..."Hey, I'm Canadian and part Inuit. I've eaten seal. You can't shock me with something like eating dog." I remember a lot of Koreans reacting in horror when I told them I had eaten deer.

Last night I was relating the same dog meat story to my dining companions. One of the other teachers at our school had tried it with his students. He said the meat wasn't bad, but the kind of fish/shrimp sauce that it was served with smelled so strong he had to ask them to remove it from the table. It's kind of a slurry of shrimp that's been aged for three months, and looks purple and thick, and has the sort of smell that you would imagine something like that made under those conditions would have.

So I'm not really eager to try dog.

We got into an argument at the table, where the resident vegetarian argued that eating dog is the same as eating pork or beef or chicken; but had several others declaring it was entirely different; as we had some sort of concord with dogs.

My friend Evan said it best when he said there's no sense trying to logically argue it out, since people's reactions to eating dog are purely emotional, and you can't reason with emotion.

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Peter wanted to take the opportunity to go outside the city to the pottery village. This village is filled with small pottery makers – kilns, workshops where pottery is thrown, shops with white ware and of course, finished goods shops, for wholesalers. I figure since these are all dishes – this is food related, right? Places like these are dangerous for me, since I love dishes. I managed to restrain myself and only got the two bowls in the picture plus two more decorated with black lotus.

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And a butter dish.

Er, and a salt cellar.

Reasonably priced, - I think I got the whole lot for under $10 USD, but I imagine wholesale it’s a lot cheaper. It was certainly much cheaper than many of the shops in the Old Quarter, and had a much better selection.

Here, they move things the old-fashioned way.

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For New Year’s Eve, we decided to meet friends from work at a Vietnamese restaurant in the Old Quarter. It’s not the most authentic (or cleanest) place, but it’s got nice ambience, as it’s in an old French house, with original brick walls, Buddhas lying about, etc. The food is good, quick, and runs about 2$ USD a plate, so you can feed a crowd nicely, for cheap.

It’s called “Little Hanoi”, which one of my friends finds really funny – “Why is there a restaurant called “Little Hanoi”…in Hanoi?” Actually, there are three Little Hanois in town, owned by two different families. One of them has excellent lunch delivery service, and will be no doubt featured later this week when I’m working. The other one is where we were last night.

We had an assortment of dishes:

Catfish Fried with Dill

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Pork with Five Tastes (we also got this one in chicken)

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Fried Eggplant with Garlic (my favourite – I have no idea how they get it so creamy and sweet! I think honey is involved).

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Tofu and Tomato

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Beef with Citron and Chili in Caramel Sauce and Fried Morning Glory with Garlic – no meal in Vietnam is complete without this dish.

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I think you can see “Vang Dalat” somewhere in the background there…Purportedly produced in Dalat, this domestic wine is….well, it’s good if you don’t think of it as wine. It’s about $3 USD in a restaurant…so….I like to pretend I’m drinking bokbunjaju in Korea – blackberry liqueur. Right.

Somebody mentioned they were craving cheesecake, so we wandered down the street to the Highland Café overlooking Hoan Kiem lake for dessert.

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Highland coffee is Vietnam’s answer to Starbucks, and is a popular place to get a juice and canoodle with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Unlike Starbucks, however, they serve beer! Saigon is not the most popular brand …Halida or Beer Hanoi are more popular in Hanoi.

We had the Vietnamese coffee cheesecake, which has a layer flavoured like coffee, and a layer flavoured with condensed milk. Incredibly addictive.

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We then went on to a nightclub to ring in the New Year. I admit I didn’t take pictures of the 10 or so gin tonics that I then consumed. Apologies.

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No apologies necessary! Happy new year! Do Vietnamese people make a big deal over the Western new year?

I noticed the cyclist with the dust mask on his nose and mouth. Has there been an explosion in car ownership and traffic in Hanoi, with accompanying serious air pollution, like in Chinese cities today? If so, how has that affected the experience of outdoor dining at stalls and so forth? (I'm presuming people eat on the street often? Tell us more about food and drink stalls in Hanoi.)

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I'm delighted to see you blogging this week! I'd been wondering why you were living in Korea, and then Vietnam, but was too polite to ask! :laugh: Now I can satisfy my curiousity.

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Do Vietnamese people make a big deal over the Western new year?

I noticed the cyclist with the dust mask on his nose and mouth. Has there been an explosion in car ownership and traffic in Hanoi, with accompanying serious air pollution, like in Chinese cities today? If so, how has that affected the experience of outdoor dining at stalls and so forth? (I'm presuming people eat on the street often? Tell us more about food and drink stalls in Hanoi.)

Traffic here has gotten real bad, especially with more and more SUVs on the road. The streets just aren't built for them and motorcycles to get along. Pollution has been really bad lately as well - I'm considering investing in one of those face masks. A lot of the trucks on the road seem to belch diesel smoke, so it's really noticeable. The public buses are the worst offenders, though. I curse them every time we're forced by traffic to follow along in their wake. Dining stalls tend to be on the less travelled roads - the more residential ones, so it doesn't seem to have affected that aspect of Hanoi life too much - yet.

Eating on the sidewalk is one of the great joys of living in Hanoi - if you can learn to lower yourself with dignity and grace onto the mini sidewalk stools. I'm still learning this. It calls for really strong thigh muscles. Everything is on offer on the sidewalk, and be showing a few of these things as we go.

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I'm delighted to see you blogging this week! I'd been wondering why you were living in Korea, and then Vietnam, but was too polite to ask! laugh.gif Now I can satisfy my curiousity.

My ESL career is really just a cover for international gustatoriage. :biggrin:

Suzysushi, it's up to us to keep everyone having a white Christmas dreaming of warm sandy beaches, coconut drinks, and pineapple for breakfast!

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More Globe-Trek!!! This is lovely---I'm looking forward to this week of new tastes and adventures.

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We woke up this morning around 11:30 feeling tired, but not too wrung out from the previous night. I made another pot of coffee, but as there was no food in the house, I knew we’d have to venture out.

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I liked the “girl power” motif of this coffee cup. It uses images from propaganda posters, which are still very popular here.

/tone of seriousness on/

I guess at this point, I should address the elephant in the living room, and briefly discuss the war. I, like the majority of Vietnam’s population today, was born after the conclusion of the American war, as they style it here. Most people don’t talk about it, and nobody seems too concerned about it. It’s not uncommon to see people driving around in cars with American flag seat covers. (Perhaps that’s deliberate disrespect – sitting on the flag?) At any rate, outside of some official monuments here and there, Hanoi seems to have gotten on with things, and generally ignores the whole issue. Some propaganda shops in town (where I got this mug) capitalize on European and American curiosity of this period, and sell propaganda pieces from that era. If at any time I show images that are sensitive to anyone viewing this blog, I apologize. I know that people on both sides of the war suffered greatly, and I hope to treat this issue with the dignity and respect that it deserves. At the same time, I admire the way the Vietnamese people have persevered through the last century, through several wars, and I celebrate their spirit of independence and pride.

/tone of seriousness off/

So after the coffee, I knew we had to find food. We lit out for my banh my man, but he wasn’t open yet. Street food in Hanoi is extremely sensitive to time, and if you want a certain food, you have to wait for the right time of day to get it. We went instead to Truc Bach lake, where many rolled pho vendors are located.

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While there are many proper restaurants in Hanoi, one of the great pleasures of living here, as Pan alluded to, is sitting on the side of the road and having some cheap eats. Friends get together over plates of these, and glasses of tea or beer, to chat and snack. They’re made of sheets of rice noodle filled with fried beef, lettuce, and herbs. They’re dipped in the same sauce that Bun Cha is…a kind of vinegar with bits of pickled vegetable.

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We also ordered Ngo Chien Bo, or butter-fried corn. It tastes like corn tempura soaked in butter. It’s a food you order with beer, which we weren’t in any shape to drink, but we thought we had enough ambient alcohol left to qualify for it. For some reason, ImageGullet is being picky and won't let me upload that pic. Anyway, imagine tempura-fried corn, and you'll have a good mental image.

Finally, we got some Pho Chien Ron, which is squares of rice noodle sandwiched together and deep-fried. It’s served with stir-fried beef and green veg. Greasy and good.

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We finished up with a coffee at a café on our way to the market.

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Could this be a new low for eGullets? SCM porn?

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Beautiful pictures nakji! And how wonderful to be able to visit yet another country that is completely new to me.

There are no good Vietnamese restaurants in Amsteram - as far as I know. I had a delicious Vietnamese dinner in Seattle though a couple of months ago. Maybe your blog will inspire me to try cooking some Vietamese food myself!

You mentioned that you don't cook much, why is that, because it's so easy to find cheap and good food in restaurants and streetfood?

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We proceeded next to Dong Xuan market, in the heart of the Old Quarter of Hanoi. I normally don’t shop here, preferring to stick with the retail ladies on my street. If you stand on my street long enough, anything you want will wander or totter by in baskets, waiting for your “Chi oi!” or “Em Oi!” to hail them and begin the bargaining process. I thought you might like to see what’s on offer in the main market. Later this week, I hope to rally the troops for a late-night eating session in the “food court” here.

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Meat - tongue to tail pork.

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Duck heads? I’ll take three…

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Melons? Squash? I couldn’t tell, but I loved the colour.

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All of the aromatic ingredients are available here – chilis, limes, ginger, garlic, lemongrass. They smell fantastic.

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You can pull up and get any kind of fruit, as quick as you please. Do you think we’d have the same problem with obesity in North America if our drive-thrus all served fresh fruit? :biggrin:

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This person was selling hand-made kitchen implements.

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I didn’t get anything here – as I said, I usually get produce from the ladies on my street. Before we returned home, we wanted to stop at the Citimart, a small supermarket catering to ex-pats. It has a lot of things that you can’t get at the market- butter and cheese, usually brought in from France or New Zealand; Diet Coke; boxed juice; all the necessities. Curiously enough, the building is built on the site of Hoa Lo prison, more famously known as the Hanoi Hilton. I often shake my head that I buy milk and bread at a place that saw such horror. I think that sums up a lot about the spirit of renewal and rebirth in Vietnam. The prison was originally built by the French to hold rebels, and was used by the Viet Cong during the war with the U.S. There is a small piece of the prison remaining, with a museum that mostly focuses on the French. There are two rooms with pictures and items from American prisoners, including one of two soldiers being marched down Trang Tien street, surrounded by Hanoians, on their way to the prison. Every time I see it, it chills my blood. Now, the rest of the site has been developed into a luxury serviced apartment building, with a bar that shows cricket to golf-shirt clad embassy and NGO staff.

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I couldn’t take pictures inside, but it was prosaic enough. Plus, no Pocky anyway.

After stocking up, we headed back to our street.

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Across from our house is a dried-goods store, where we buy our mineral water. I’ve yet to actually learn the Vietnamese word for water, as everyone simply asks for “La Vie” – the most popular brand. I could have water delivered in 19l jugs, but by buying water from Madame everyday, and bringing her back the empties, I have a defender and watchwoman for the house. She always mentions if I’ve left the light on out front, and generally keeps an eye on the place. If I walk by with a bag of food purchased elsewhere, I get a verbal scolding. Her shop sells all manners of goods, including noodles, dried mushrooms, peanuts, MSG, and fresh eggs – duck and chicken.

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Across from her, and two doors up from my house, is my veg lady.

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She’s a real dear, and I don’t think it has ever occurred to her to charge me more than the going rate for veg. I can usually get several kilos of veg for less than a dollar, depending on the seasonality of what she’s selling. She keeps pineapples to the side for me, in case I miss the pineapple specialists. She also suggests which herbs are appropriate for which vegetables. Living in Vietnam, here on my street, I can really feel what it’s like to have a relationship with vendors, and know that there are people behind what I’m eating. Although I don’t shop every day, she’s my go-to lady when I want a kilo of fresh tomatoes for salsa, or some eggplants for roasting.

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You mentioned that you don't cook much, why is that, because it's so easy to find cheap and good food in restaurants and streetfood?

That's right, Chufi, although one of my resolutions for this year is to take an intensive cooking course, and learn to make some Vietnamese dishes for when the time comes that I eventually leave. Right now, though, if I'm craving some really good Vietnamese food, I just hit the street.

There wasn't a lot of Vietnamese food available in my hometown either, as I was growing up. I've mainly experienced Vietnamese food here in Vietnam, although I did have a killer bowl of pho in Melbourne once.

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All these great pictures are evoking such wonderful memories of Hanoi, I'm going to pull out my journal later and dig up some places to ask you about.

The smell of smoke in the evening as every street vendor pulls out their little brassieres and cook corn and meat on skewers. Pho for breakfast. I ate constantly and lost 10 lbs the first time we were there for a week.

I remember the americanized market in the Hanoi Hilton, we went looking for diapers to fit a kid who was less than 5 lbs. I rode on the back of a motorcycle with two tiny vietnamese girls in the pouring rain, under a poncho. Thought I was going to die.

Your vegetable vendor looks Tay like my daughter. Can you comment on the pecking order in vietnam with the minorities and the covering up to keep the skin white?

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So when do we get to see pictures of your apartment and your kitchen? :smile: I'm curious about ex-pat living conditions in Vietnam. My next teaching stop will probably be the UAE, but Turkey and Vietnam are high on my list, too! (Is public school certification required for teaching in Vietnam, or will an MA in TESOL be good enough?)

I'm hoping you'll be blogging again in February--I want to see Tet!


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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/tone of seriousness on/

I guess at this point, I should address the elephant in the living room, and briefly discuss the war. I, like the majority of Vietnam’s population today, was born after the conclusion of the American war, as they style it here. Most people don’t talk about it, and nobody seems too concerned about it. It’s not uncommon to see people driving around in cars with American flag seat covers. (Perhaps that’s deliberate disrespect – sitting on the flag?) At any rate, outside of some official monuments here and there, Hanoi seems to have gotten on with things, and generally ignores the whole issue. Some propaganda shops in town (where I got this mug) capitalize on European and American curiosity of this period, and sell propaganda pieces from that era. If at any time I show images that are sensitive to anyone viewing this blog, I apologize. I know that people on both sides of the war suffered greatly, and I hope to treat this issue with the dignity and respect that it deserves. At the same time, I admire the way the Vietnamese people have persevered through the last century, through several wars, and I celebrate their spirit of independence and pride.

/tone of seriousness off/

From what I understand, relations between the Vietnamese and US governments have become downright cordial in the decades since the fall of South Vietnam; it's almost as if the war had never happened. Given that the Vietnamese government is still officially Communist IIRC, I wonder if there's that same sort of weird juxtaposition of freewheeling free-market economics and restrictions on free speech that we find in China there.

Could this be a new low for eGullets? SCM porn?

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I think the foodblogger who did the dulce de leche lab experiment beat you to this.

You can pull up and get any kind of fruit, as quick as you please. Do you think we’d have the same problem with obesity in North America if our drive-thrus all served fresh fruit?  :biggrin:

We've got researchers working on this question.

After stocking up, we headed back to our street.

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The jumbled, chaotic streetscape I see here looks quite inviting -- and is completely alien to the typical American sensibility, even among urbanophiles. Again, did this take some getting used to, Canadians being more like Americans than unlike them in this regard?

Pardon the off-topic questions, but this is a window into a whole culture as well as an exploration of its culinary traditions.

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All these great pictures are evoking such wonderful memories of Hanoi, I'm going to pull out my journal later and dig up some places to ask you about.

I would be pleased to chase them down.

Can you comment on the pecking order in vietnam with the minorities and the covering up to keep the skin white?

I'm not really sure about the pecking order of minorities..it's not really something that I've discussed at length with anyone here.

My vegetable lady is definitely disadvantaged though. She can't see correctly - I think she needs glasses, and I suspect she's not properly registered, or she would have help from the government. She always has to hold money really closely to her eyes. Everyone on the street seems to take care of her, though - all the other merchants cover her station when she's not there, and call out the proper change to her sometimes.

Come to think of, I'm not entirely sure she knows I'm not Vietnamese. :biggrin:

So when do we get to see pictures of your apartment and your kitchen?  I'm curious about ex-pat living conditions in Vietnam. My next teaching stop will probably be the UAE, but Turkey and Vietnam are high on my list, too! (Is public school certification required for teaching in Vietnam, or will an MA in TESOL be good enough?)

You don't need a teaching certificate proper, but you do need a TESOL or CELTA. A MA TESOL will be fine. PM me if you're interested and I can give you some names of schools.

I live in a house - it's quite comfortable, but the kitchen is tiny, contributing to why we eat out a lot. It didn't even have the gas range when we were negotiating to take the place. The landlady seemed shocked that we wanted one. She said the Japanese lady who lived here before us never wanted one, why would we?

Again, did this take some getting used to, Canadians being more like Americans than unlike them in this regard?

Yes, although almost four years in South Korea helped me get used to lots of people and noise. I don't even notice it anymore. Before we moved here, we spent a month in India. We chose it on purpose, so that when we arrived in Vietnam, we'd find it calm and orderly in comparison.

Given that the Vietnamese government is still officially Communist IIRC, I wonder if there's that same sort of weird juxtaposition of freewheeling free-market economics and restrictions on free speech that we find in China there.

Short answer? Yes. Vietnam joined the WTO in November, and development has been a fever pitch for a while now. This has generated a huge demand for English-language training, especially at state-run businesses. Which explains the hours I've been working the past few months. The government has been pretty liberal with internet access - although the speed is pretty crappy. I'm uploading pictures one by one since the bandwidth can't handle bulk uploads. They've been pretty tough with print, though, and frequently reprimand papers they feel have gone too far.

But my young students, the teenagers, all want Levis jeans, iPods, Vespa bikes, the fastest and best cell phones. Singapore is seen as the example to emulate, and students speak of it in hushed tones, like the promised land, a good TOEIC score and a scholarship to a school there the only barriers to the sweet life.

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My refrigerator...is mostly full of condiments. And beer. I didn't bother to take any pics of the freezer, as it only holds ice. And not, you know, like Donbert's freezer holds ice. Just a couple of trays of bog-standard ice.

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Speaking of bog-standard, here was my dinner. Bacon and tomato sandwich (with kewpie mayo!), baked potato, and Diet Coke. Korean cookie for dessert - chocochip - my favourite!

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Tiny kitchen:

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Note the lack of hot-running water. Most kitchens don't have it, so dish soap is extra tough to float the grease off dishes without it.

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<snip>

Tiny kitchen:

gallery_28661_4062_63853.jpg

Note the lack of hot-running water. Most kitchens don't have it, so dish soap is extra tough to float the grease off dishes without it.


Edited by judiu (log)

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Really interesting blog! It's great to get a glimpse into your "food life" :biggrin:

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In some ways, Hanoi looks like the Malaysia of 30 years ago, with the one-or-a-few-story storefronts and residential buildings and prevalence of bicycles and motorcycles. (The bazaars are still there, today.) But obviously, these things are changing. If the experience of Malaysia is any guide, when they all get cars and their society becomes developed and wealthy, the Vietnamese people may get fat and start having obesity- and lack-of-exercise-related health problems. But in the meantime...


Edited by Pan (log)

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Wow, so intertesting all the way around!

Do you have, or can you get, a recipe for that Vietnamese coffee cheesecake? That would be right up my husband's alley.

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