I once talked to a bún bò Huế seller and learnt that many people love huyết because they believe that it helps them to be more persuasive, more fluent and smoother in speaking. Well, of course, it’s not true. It’s just a way to explain why many Huế people are so addicted to the chocolate-colored cubes of boiled huyết.
She does it differently. She puts the mixed veggies in a bowl, then adds some spies and then pours a little bit clam broth in. She then mixes the mixture before adding the steamed rice. Finally, she tops it with stir-fried clam, spices (again) and fried pork skin.
Her bún hến is so-so but her cơm hến is especially tasty and different. It’s the flavor of cơm hến that I feel familiar and new at the same time. I’m enjoying the cơm hến and observing her. She is like a well-known culinary performer, and her gánh hàng is the stage while the diners are a crowded audience. Sometimes I see one or two smiles on her gloomy face, which adds more passion to my experience with her food and herself.
I used to think it was unfair that I was born with a love for coffee but my body refused to receive caffeine. I always had to sneak the fragrant steam of coffee from my friends’ cup to satisfy my thirst for it. I inhaled a long breath to gather as much coffee aroma into my lung as possible. Sometimes I was brave enough to sip some black coffee or milk coffee but then I ended up having butterfly in my stomach and feeling nervous for the rest of the day.
There is a place where food is a charm and also a challenge. The food there can make your mouth water when thinking of, but at the same time it somehow holds you back when you remember how spicy it is if you have tried it. Huế is such a place.
Madam Cẩm picks up some thin slices of juicy and fresh beef with the chopsticks, and put the beef in the ladle she is holding in her left hand. After that, she scoops some boiling broth with the ladle with the beef inside, and then lets the ladle half sinking in the broth for a while (maybe one minute or so) to “cook” the beef. Then, she pours the whole thing in the vermicelli.
Huế is where dining is not just a daily need but a form of art and Huế people love eating in style. Why not going on a food tour to discover its specialties beside going sightseeing once you are in the former capital of Việt Nam?
She sat down opposite him, the half-meter-wide table between them. After a little awkward silence, he looked at her half traditional and half modern, half local and half foreign attire, asking: “Your uniform is lovely. Which company are you working for?”
I believe that among many Vietnamese fish sauces, mắm nêm is the smelliest one. Some people even compare its odor with that of a stinky shoe. However, for some foodies like myself, we are addicted to this distinctive scent. I often fight hard to keep my saliva from running whenever I smell its aroma. Like renowned durian, mắm nêm also “smells like hell, tastes like heaven”.
Chè is a sweet piece of my childhood. How I miss the days when I sat on the doorway waiting for mom to come home from the market with a chè, served in a small transparent plastic bag tied with a rubber band, in her basket.