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.
A mother’s cooking is always the best, and of course I love my mom’s cooking the most. However, I still remember there were times I cried during the home meals because of my mom’s spicy food when I was a little girl.
“Mom, your food is so spicy. It’s burning my lips.” I complained one day, tears in my eye.
“Sorry, baby, but I only put in a little bit red chilly…” My mom replied apologetically.
My mom loves hot food and it’s gradually passed down to me. And I bet many other Huế people start to love spicy food like the way I do – hate it at first and then become addicted to it. But why do people in Huế are so much in love with spicy food?
I have been in search of the answers for this question for some time but none has been found yet. Some people reason that the weather in Huế is very cold and wet in rainy reason so eating spicy food makes they feel warmer.The others say the spiciness stimulates your appetite.
For me, one of the reasons is that planting chilies is so easy in Huế. My mom even grows one chili whose fruit she shares with the neighbors. They come for a chili or two before lunch or dinner all most every day, and this is how my mom often have neighbors stop by our house and have a quick chit-chat.
Among many types of chilies, bird’s eye chili is my favorite. I love to have it in the fish sauce or have it as chili paste. You will find a bowl of fish sauce with chili, or of chili sauce, or both, available for guests at any local food restaurants here.
If you’re not a fan of spicy food, be sure to add “không cay” (not spicy) when you order food at a local restaurant in Huế.