I was born in post-war Vietnam but didn’t get to grow up there. However, I’ve been lucky enough to go back a few times and the second best thing (besides seeing my family and friends back there) is getting to EAT!
The food in Vietnam is plentiful, inexpensive and de-freaking-licious. The last time I visited was in 2013 and it was the first time I’d been back in almost a decade. I was able to go for Vietnamese New Years (Tet) and it was the first one I’d ever been able to celebrate back in Vietnam! Being a largely Buddhist country, many families go to the temples to pray to their ancestors and wish for luck during Tet. I visited many of them with my family and even got to eat a delicious Vegetarian meal! We also drank some hop e (basil seed) drink. It’s sweet and the seeds have a soft outer but crunchy inner texture – I always thought they looked like frog eggs growing up and loved to drink them!
Growing up in Vancouver, I was lucky to live in a place that had a large Vietnamese community and good accessibility to many Vietnamese ingredients so my parents would continue to cook Vietnamese food and there are many Vietnamese restaurants we visited. Food is one of the few ways I am able to hold onto my cultural heritage and I hope I can pass the love of Vietnamese food onto any future children/nieces/nephews I may have.
The most popular Vietnamese dish that most people think of is probably Pho, a delicious noodle in soup that contains many different types of cuts of beef and is served with a side of fresh herbs.
Vietnam has many other delicious noodle soups though! Hu Tieu Nam Van is a seafood medley with chewy rice noodles and my all time favourite Bun Bo Hue is a spicy beef noodle soup with thick, round rice noodles!
The fresh tropical fruit available in Vietnam is also amazing. There are street vendors everywhere that will sell you tons of fruit and you can easily pick up my favourite drink everywhere: freshly pressed sugar cane juice (nuoc mia)!
Being able to eat fruit everyday was a real treat.
Something that I only get to eat in Vietnam is the wide selection of seafood and especially fresh water SNAILS! It’s my favourite late night snack and something that I can’t get back in Canada.
If you ever get the chance to visit Vietnam, make sure to try as much cuisine as you can. It won’t break the bank and you’ll be in for a real treat!