“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” may sound cliché but it is how we often relate food to love for a man. But now, it’s not only man but every one of us will feel so easy to fall in love with any place in the world just due to their distinctive cuisine. Vietnam is right there on the list. Largely thanks to Vietnamese boat people, Vietnamese food has spread out to every corner on earth. Tourists coming to Vietnam are arguably so excited and eager in the culinary hunt for exotic, delicious food that they’ve never tried before or things unaffordable back in their place, yet so cheap here.
Vietnamese food may hold you in awe to the core if you are a westerner traveler and especially not familiar with Asian food. There are maybe too many balls for you to juggle in a short time of travelling. Food-advisors hence someday will be made to rank them in the order of preference to put you at ease. Top of the list without any doubt is Pho. Being eye-catching and served with familiar ingredients like beef and rice noodle help it score to reach to first position. And at the bottom will be (drum rolling)… honestly I can’t tell among dog meat, roasted rats, alive coconut worms or tons of weird things Vietnamese eat. To draw people with adventurous minds, many articles put spotlight only on the first and the bottom of the list, hence nurture the travelers with strange and funny ideas from the facts even before they reach Vietnam.
Here are some popular misconceptions you may have.
1/ Puppy for food, anyone?
Fiction: The Vietnamese consumes lots of dog and cat meat.
People do eat cats and dogs in Vietnam. It used to be more popular in the past, but not a trend now. There are still several restaurants serving them and they are watched out by their neighbors. The dogs killed for meat are perhaps somebody’s pets because Vietnam doesn’t have any dog farm. Thrown by the hatred stare from dog lovers, the shops still run for the ones finding it too hard to resist. However, the number of dog meat eaters is dwindling year by year in Vietnam.
In the first place, people here did not eat dog or cat. Dogs and cats were their loyal friends and house guards like everywhere else in the world until the famine outbreak in 1945.The famine as a result of both harsh French and Japanese occupation caused about 2 million deaths in Vietnam at that time. Vietnamese were on the verge of death and forcibly eased the hunger by eating anything. Anything likes their pets. Domestic animals were their life saviors. . That’s one of the main stories behind Vietnamese habit of eating dogs or cats.
Now you can feel relieved to find out that in Vietnam they don’t replace beef or chicken for dogs and cats frequently. Feel free to order a roasted rat instead. It will be unforgettable experience for you.
2/ Yummy Insects!
Fiction: Eating insects such as spiders, crickets, snakes or scorpions is very popular in Vietnam
Basically, it shared the same story with pet-eating habit. It originally came in the hardest time of Vietnamese in World War II.
People served insects with beer or wine like snacks. There is little chance that you can see restaurants in downtown selling these.
3/Set menu today: Pho and spring rolls
Fiction: We eat Pho and Spring rolls on a daily basis
Phở is one of the most popular dishes for breakfast that Vietnamese could have. Phở originated in Northern Vietnam in the late 1880s, when the French had come to Vietnam for several decades. The dish, therefore, was heavily influenced by French It actually is believed that “phở” is a Vietnamese adaption of “pot au feu”, a well-known French soup of stewed beef. “Pot au feu” literally means “pot on the fire,” implied long hours required to have get one. Vietnamese cooks put bean sprouts and lots of aromatic herbs in place of carrots and turnips in Pot au feu, and added much of mild and delicate rice noodles to finish the dish. We can’t deny that Phở is a signature food of Vietnam in the world; it, however, is not included in Vietnamese staple diet such as steamed rice and fish sauce.
Fried Spring rolls are another dish for chefs to play with rice. Rice wrapping paper is normally made to cover well-seasoned ground pork, shred carrots, daikons, mushrooms and glass noodles. Then they need multiple people to roll into small portions and cost time to serve. Therefore, fried spring rolls are not available in Vietnamese daily course like many Westerners thought. They are preferable in family union occasions such as weekend, day of the death, wedding ceremony or Lunar New Year party.
4/Banh mi, yes please!
Fiction: Vietnamese fall in love with Banh mi (Baguette).
Actually, bellowing is what Vietnamese think about Banh mi:
For people who are short of time or money.
Among Pho, coffee, Banh mi is one of the legacies French had left in Vietnam. Banh mi was once the cheapest treat for your empty stomach. It is an airy baguette stuffed with pate, mayonnaise, pork terrine and garnished with some pickles. Banh mi stand stalls fulfill each and every corner of Vietnam and serve anyone from the street people. Banh mi is even given free for anyone in need. Although many chefs currently have brought Banh mi to another level and some can cost way more than it’s used to be, it’s still believe to be an approachable cheap fast street food. The most expensive Banh mi in Saigon is equal to the average bowl of Pho.
Banh mi is too dry and wheat flour is not good for your body
Vietnamese would rather try the dish with broth than dry food. Also they have 10 reasons you shouldn’t eat Banh mi to support their argument. The advice is also passed down to many generations. Regardless of how good it tastes, consuming too much Banh mi will increase your body heat, which is a terrible nightmare in a tropical country like Vietnam.
Now that we’ve debunked all 4 of the most common food myths, it doesn’t make them less tasty. Vietnamese cuisine is more than what most appears on magazine. It will be the real feast for your eyes and stomach. Come and find out yourselves or go on tour with us to discover!
By: Vy Tran from Lose The Tie Tour Team