.. now not only is this an exploration of food but also the markets along the way... and what good is a market in the Far East if you can't find your local Chinese Pharmacy with all kinds of jars and drawers filled with mysterious things that promise to be the cure to any thing you may be afflicted by. I know many who swear by these medicines even where modern medicine may have given up hope
Almost right next door we found a silk shop with the traditional Vietnamese dress being worn by a mannequin in the window. It is very similar to the dress worn in Pakistan and India... except that the slits on the side go all the way up on the waist... the little bit of skin that shows there as a result is also nicknamed the "triangle of Paradise" :) Sadly .. my triangle doesn't resemble anything like Paradise I assure you
We keep on walking and came across some very dodgy looking jars with strange things in them.. apparently pickled tofu.... supposedly delicious... if you like Blue cheese... I love blue cheese and I hope to work up the courage to try one of these concoctions one of these days...but today was not the day for bravery
We started to head towards a temple.. which was on our list of places to stop in on, when we saw some betel nuts and what I know as Paan leaves. Now if you are from the subcontinent or travelled there you may be familiar with this. An after dinner digestive that consists of paan leaves wrapped around delicious sweet syrupy.. 'stuff' or you could have one that isn't sweet. (Sweet one is delicious btw) BUT these were NOTHING like that
So you see the purple thing in the background? That is a vile tasting limestone thingymebob that they spread on the leaves and hand over to you to chew on... along with a betel nut.
.. again.. I was chicken but I was curious so Barbara was a good sport and tried one for us... and these are the results we got... a picture is worth a thousand words for sure
yep don't think I will be opting for that taste adventure for sure...now since we were getting closer to the temple... the market now was starting to change in nature... one now came across stuff one would buy to place as offerings at the altars
beautiful flowers... these were things of course i would expect... then we came across strange objects and Barbara explained the customs...
Now what you see here is what they call "Hell money" which basically means you can buy photocopies of nice big dollar bills ... or...
Paper replicas of gold bars .....
some nice clean shirts with a camera and even....
that's right... a house ... and then armed with these treasures one would head to the temple and burn these offerings there with an understanding that all these items would then be sent over to one's loved ones in the other world for them to use and enjoy
Before we got there we did continue through the market and found all kinds of wonderful things like different kinds of rice all piled up for you to choose from.. Jasmine, broken, black, blood, Thai ... every kind of rice you can think of except of course... my favourite... (Murphy moved to Vietnam with me) Basmati rice
If you remember I mentioned in my last update how you couldn't get out on a food trail without coming across pork. It seems to be the meat of choice in Vietnam... well they love it so much... they even named a dessert "pork skin" ... I assure you...no pork in it... just rice and sugar... but just goes to show how much pork is loved
Vu however opted for a purple looking thingy... which apparently would taste the same or very similar but its just a matter of which colour one prefers
My idols Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver would have a field day with the piles of different foods waiting to be picked and used in food.... shrimp to sweeten one's soup... dried eel... squid... anything you want under the sun...its all here
and for the more adventurous... if you feel like trying frog... you can get 'em fresh and then chopped up as you like....ech
What i found interesting is this fruit that I still need to try called Soursop... apparently wonderful in milkshakes... and has very strong cancer fighting properties... of course not really pushed by modern doctors as a possible deterrent or as an aid in treatment
The last part in this series will be about my temple experience which I don't think I would have had if I had just visited the temple on my own... from fortune telling from a number in a cupboard to meeting all kinds of icons of animals... that's all in the last part of my series on the PHO Trail with Saigon Street Eats... so if you are in Saigon or travelling here... you must make this a part of your itinerary for sure... tomorrow I shall finish this series and hopefully move on to something else. Oh and on the personal front... finally got back to the gym today... lost power 10 minutes into my workout.. so had to stop short... I think the Temple gods took pity on me and rewarded me with one more day of sloth for my good behaviour :)