Food and More: Vietnam, Trip of a Lifetime

It took us nearly half of our courtship period to decide where we’d go for our first vacation post wedding, and I am not exaggerating when I say we pretty much covered the entire world, one place at a time. We bought books, we saw documentaries and made more than two expense sheets to finally decide on Vietnam.

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Halong Bay – Vietnam

Most of the people we meet invariably ask us why Vietnam? After having spent nearly two weeks in that fabulous place, our only answer to them is – Why not? You want beaches – check; You want shopping -check; you want history -check; you want nice and helpful locals, check; and above it all, you want good food – check again!

Yes, there is so much more to Vietnam than just Vietnam War. Don’t get me wrong, visits to the war museum in Ho Chi Minh City or Cu Chi tunnels can shake you up, but to an outsider it seems that the country is beginning to move on. The people are humble and hard working, and it’s fascinating to see such an agriculture focused economy. When in Vietnam, it feels like you’ve gone back to simpler times with the luxury of modern amenities.

But I digress; I must now shift the focus to the food. Now, I haven’t yet traversed the globe, but of the places that I have travelled to and and the food that I have gorged on, Vietnamese cuisine stands out for its goodness and simplicity. Experiencing local food was our primary agenda on this trip. I must add here, I am glad to have found a foodie in my husband, and through its cuisine, we could really connect with the Vietnamese way of life.

Vietnamese food is as humble and simple as the people. It is comfort food at its best. Be it the quintessential Pho (pronounced as ‘fuh’ – who knew!) or the ever so fancy Bun Cha (Grilled pork and noodles)you can find everything at that tiny street side shop or at the fancy restaurants dotting the French Quarter in Hanoi.

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Pho – the complete meal

I don’t think we had a single bad meal in Vietnam. Except perhaps the time we thought the chicken feet in our starter was a mistake, and then ended up seeing the same thing in a hotel buffet, and then again proudly displayed at the supermarket. It might have been a local delicacy, but neither of us was adventurous enough to try.

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Can you blame us for not eating that?

At the end of the day Vietnam is all about the street food. As much as we enjoy fine wine, ambient lighting, live jazz music, and sundry, nothing comes close to the authenticity of devouring fabulous street food squatting on low plastic stools along the pavements.

I can go on and on about the food in Vietnam, but I’d let the photos do the talking now:

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Banh Mi – The Vietnamese sandwich I wish I had eaten more of

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Springrolls – fresh and fried

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Sticky rice, a duck main course, and Pho – One of our many roadside dinners

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Egg Coffee – A must try in Vietnam. Beware, it does not taste anything like coffee

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Raw papaya salad – one of my favourites

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Crab patties – one of my husband’s favourites

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Bun Cha – grilled pork and noodles, a dish which made me appreciate pork

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Bia Hoi – best drink ever! Freshly brewed local beer, not to be confused with the local bottled beer, Bia Hanoi

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Lychee with lotus seeds – a rather refreshing dessert

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Den Nong – Vietnamese hot black coffee, way too sweet, way too strong

So here’s the concluding thought: whether or not you are travelling for a week or a month, back packing or going luxe, with family or with  friends, Vietnam is a joy to visit. If for nothing else, go for the food.

PS: I am not through with raving about Vietnam. Expect more posts in the coming days 🙂

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