Posted by: kim | August 7, 2007

Food for thought

Wherever we’ve gone in Asia we’ve been surrounded by food. Eating is (quite rightly!) a huge part of people’s lives, and street food in particular. In Vietnam most people eat pho (beef noodle soup) or perhaps treat themselves to some virility-boosting snake wine; a deep-fried slice of tofu or a chicken foot is the order of the day in China; fish stew in Cambodia (amok) is a national dish or perhaps yak potato stew in Mongolia might take your fancy. We’ve been sticking to the fruit and vegetables which has been far easier than we imagined, especially in Vietnam where there’s a com chay in even the smallest towns (see my vegetarian travel page).


That lady above is in Saigon’s Chinatown, peddling her feet (ha, ha).

In the Mekong Delta we’ve seen the piggies get taken to market in their little bamboo cages, or perched on their backs on a $400 Honda motorcycle. We bought an amazing postcard that shows 14 piglets kind of sitting quietly on the back of one of these small vehicles. This pic is just of a few piglets at the back of a rice noodle making factory we visited.

In Cambodia, we’ve been confronted with so much produce. Trees bursting with fresh bananas, skinny cows, and lots of rice in the Battambang region. There are quite a few ice-cream shops where teenagers will sit and have a sundae or a bubble tea (sweet, tapioca pearls situated at the bottom of a usually milky or fruity drink and consumed with a large straw) while listening to 24/7 Cambodian karaoke channels.

Local food markets are everywhere, and you won’t see a Tesco or a Coles in sight, let alone bananas in shrink wrap. Salad in a bag washed in chlorine would be postively alien to these people and it’s simple to see why. Their food is farm fresh and cheap. Although the smell in Phomn Penh’s Russian Market was pungent and fishy, we walked past there and ended up in the ‘tools and paint’ section which didn’t smell as bad! The worst sight was in Saigon, where we passed sacks of spices sitting in an alley but each one was covered in a swarm of flies — it seemed that the sellers didn’t want to cover up their produce even though you could barely see what was in the sacks for all the flies buzzing around. For the most part it’s been great!
In Vietnam, ladies selling fruit expertly balance a piece of bamboo on their shoulders; two sacks of produce hanging over each end like scales. They’ll tap you on the arm and still manage not to drop what they’re holding.

Our guide book says the Vietnamese think that sandy, yellow dogs make the most tender meat so whenever we see one of them we think, ‘must be tasty’.
hanoi food

In China, everything goes, as we’ve already mentioned…



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