As previously mentioned in my last blog, I have immersed myself wholeheartedly into my 8 week stay in Vietnam. However I never expected to fall in love with a place in such a short period of time. Between the culture, the people and the beauty; my senses were overloaded everyday.
Living in a house with transient volunteers was both exciting and heart breaking in equal measures. We were extremely lucky to have our very own chef who cooked us amazing Vietnamese dishes everyday for lunch and dinner. With anything up to 30 volunteers staying at the same time, mealtime was an extremely social experience. We congregated in the common room and waited hungrily and impatiently at times for the clock to strike 12 to be allowed to feast on all the dishes Ms. Cuc (Yes, ironically that is her name and profession) had heartily prepared for at least 3 hours previous. You could tell from her dishes that a lot of love went into each dish. She catered for meat eaters and vegetarians (Chay in Vietnamese) alike.
Pork was the most common meat choice in the house and I think in Vietnam in general. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of pork but I tried every single dish Ms. Cuc had prepared as they were all so delicious and having now arrived home to Ireland, I can honestly admit that my taste-buds had been reborn.
Bun-cha and Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) were the most popular dishes and I can still taste the fish sauce that I chose for my Bun-cha. Yummy! (See photos below)
Chicken was a rare commodity in the house which was completely acceptable as even when I got a little tired of Pork I opted for the delicious vegetarian/Chay options and even tried bamboo cooked in garlic. The most adventurous dish I tried was pig skin and I honestly didn’t even know it was pig skin but I made a rule that I should try every option at least once. Pig skin has the consistency of chicken liver pate and tastes quite similar. I am delighted I tried it but once my brain assimilated it was pig skin, I couldn’t eat anymore.
My ultimate meal choice was Bánh mì (pronounced phonetically as Ban me) which is basically a fresh and warm baguette with different fillings inside ranging from pate to pork and salads. There was a Bánh mì stand outside my roommate Annie’s school that was by far the best in all of Vietnam. The owner knew her well and gave her the warmest smile and Xin Ciao (hello) every time she saw Annie leaving school after her day of teaching. I made Annie buy me a Bánh mì every time she was buying herself one as they were so good. 20,000VND was the cost of one and is the equivalent to 60 cent in Ireland. Well worth it!
Personally, I do not eat a lot of fruit at home in Ireland however I ate the most deliciously fresh fruit while in Vietnam from lychee (extremely tasty) to durian which is an acquired taste and has an intoxicatingly pungent smell that would even deter rats! I was told that durian is illegal to open up on the streets as the smell is so piercing on the senses!
On this note, I will end with a quote that summises my reasoning for the title of my first two blogs called ‘Vietnam on the senses’.
“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason”. – Immanuel Kant
Tạm biệt/Goodbye for now
About the Author:
Name: Cliona Langley
Age: Over 18