I’ve been associated with my Pako* friends in A Lưới for a few years but I wasn’t impressed with their food until I met Mrs. Đàm. Her real name is Biên but according to Pako tradition it’s more polite to call a married woman after her first child. Mrs. Đàm does not read or write […]
Many people ask me what makes Huế cuisine different from the food in other areas of Vietnam whenever I tell them I love Huế food. Well, it isn’t easy to give them a correct answer, is it? However, in my opinion, apart from its elegant presentation and fresh ingredients, Huế food is amplified by the […]
Bánh khoái is one of the signature dishes of Thừa Thiên Huế Province. Bánh is a kind of cake or food made of rice powder or paste; and khoái means “smoke”, some say, or “enjoyable”, the others explain. I guess both of the explanations make sense to me but I prefer the latter so now […]
Right at a corner of chaotic Chuồn Market, there is a woman, surrounded with people, struggling with a dozen of pans. It’s O Lành (Auntie Lành), a great “bánh khoái cá kình” maker. She used a short stalk of a banana leaf coating the pan’s bottom with a thin layer of cooking oil. She then […]
While I was studying in Bandung, a city famous for its unique cuisine on Java Island (Indonesia), I had thought that my gastronomical urges would be satisfied by the abundance of local delicacies. Besides, there was a Vietnamese restaurant called Hanoi House to satisfy my craving for Vietnamese food. However, I still felt like something […]
She is a big fan of homemade meals but ironically cooking is not her favorite. One Saturday night, she flew home very late after a business trip so she had to miss her dinner. A few things that she misses when she is away from home are Huế specialties and homemade meals. She went to bed with the hope that her mother whom she nicknamed chef Mama would cook her a big lunch on Sunday instead. She woke up the next morning to find out that chef Mama would be away from home for the whole day. She sighed. Thinking about eating alone at a quán cơm bụi (a kind of local food stall serving cheap rice meals) or a restaurant made her stomach rumbled.
In rainy and cold days, I love sitting close to her hot charcoal pot, nibbling bánh mì in the dim light and looking toward the well-lighted Saigon Morin Hotel, where Charlie Chaplin used to honeymoon, on the other side of Lê Lợi Str.
Nậm loves her outfit made of green banana leaf or dong (a kind of leaf whose scientific name is Phrynium placentarium) and wears it all the time. Lọc is a naughty guy. Sometimes he puts on the same banana leaf outfit as Nậm does, but sometimes he just enjoys being uncovered. Huế people call him Lọc Gói (wrapped Lọc) when he has clothes on and Lọc Trần (topless Lọc) when he goes naked.