Street Food Diary #1: Bun Cha
The very first street food I had once I arrived in Hanoi is Bun Cha, and it has become one of my staple foods in the weeks to come. It’s basically grilled minced meat patties served in a soup with some vegetables, and is eaten with cold rice noodes (bun). The correct way to eat it is to dip the noodles into the soup and slurp away its deliciousness with a bite of the grilled meat. The soup itself tastes rather sweet and sugary, but I think it’s a perfect pairing with the savoury grilled fatty flavour of the patties.
It’s sold in every corner in Hanoi and is a definite must have when you visit Vietnam.
Street Food Diaries!
It’s official: I’m bringing food porn into this blog!
You see, I live to eat, not eat to live. Therefore, a huge part of my travel adventures is discovering a country or a city’s culinary traditions. I’m lucky enough to have amazing friends in Hanoi who introduce me to a whole variety of food across the city, so I figured now is the best time to share my discoveries.
Of course, since we’re in Asia, what better place to find food other than the streets and obscure alleys? Forget about the Michellin stars and being served by waiters in impeccable bowties, all the magic happens in the street-front kitchens. Fortunately for me, I have the immune system of the average Asian, so hygiene is pretty much below the list of my concerns when it comes to food. I just pray before I eat that I don’t get typhoid (been there, done that, don’t want it again).
Sooo, I’ll chronicle my street food adventure in this little blog and I hereby declare that I am not in any way responsible for the side-effects from said post i.e. midnight hunger and cravings.
I’ll be posting the Street Food Diary sporadically in the next few days/weeks so stay tuned and enjoy the food porn!
Greetings from Vietnam!
In case you missed it: I’ve landed safe and sound in Hanoi. In fact, I’ve been here since last Thursday.
So the past 4 days have been quite something. Ashley from AIESEC FTU Hanoi picked me up from the airport and we went to my host’s house straight away. I was greeted by a very excited girl called Thu. She invited me back to her house and immediately that evening her mother stuffed me with delicious food.
I spent the Friday roaming around the city by motorbike with Thu. I’ve came up with the conclusion if you want to experience crazy motorbike traffic that will make any Jakarta traffic look very tame, then by all means visit Hanoi. I’m surprised no one was involved in an accident yet. If there’s a phrase to describe the traffic is an organised mess.
I’d like to indulge you with stories and such of all the places I visited on Friday, but I’ll leave that with the photographs I’ll be uploading very soon (I promise!)
What I’d like to do instead is share a story about my weekend. On the first night I got to Hanoi, Thu already invited me to her cousin’s wedding, which happened to be out of town. Of course I couldn’t refuse because: 1) I’d get to witness a Vietnamese wedding, now that’s a travel experience: and 2) The house will be empty, so there’s no point for me to stick around anyways.
So, I went. And to my surprise, Thu and I were basically like one of those reluctant teenagers who just can’t be asked to attend extended family gathering stuff haha. Regardless, it was still a very interesting experience for me.
My little angels of the weekend :3
I think mostly because the culture shock is slowly sinking in at that point. Barely anyone in her family spoke English, so I’m left to observe the family and helplessly attempt to communicate with them.
Thu’s little cousins though, were such angels. They were the ones who made the weekend very fun and bearable. I just can’t get enough of them. They spoke kindergarten-level English, but they were very eager to learn.
Once they saw me they immediately introduced themselves in English. Basically the whole weekend was filled with “my favourite colour is blue” and “my name is Lin” type of conversation. It seemed like a very boring conversation to have, but I find it very lovely to see that these children were very eager to learn. Also, it’s just calms me down when I see children, who all they can think of is just to have fun and play with other children. In a nutshell, they lit up my days.
Other than that, the wedding was an interesting aspect of their culture to witness. First of all, like most weddings, there was definitely A LOT of food. Also, as the groom said to me, “in Vietnam we like to drink, especially when celebrating”. And so throughout the weekend, the vodka kept flowing.
To be honest, I found some traditions in a Vietnamese wedding that are similar to the Indonesian culture. For instance, It involves the tradition of the groom’s family picking the bride up at her house, gifts and all. Followed by prayers and paying respect to the elders.
One interesting tradition I witnessed was that the couple proceeded to pour tea for all the guests, before the groom whisks his bride off to his house. Once the bride and her family came to the groom’s house, they were welcomed ceremoniously. This time, the groom’s family members served the tea to their guests, a symbol of bonding between the two families.
The bride pours tea for the guests
And then well, um, the party kind of ends there actually. Which is quite anti-climatic, I must say haha.
But, despite the anti-climax, it was indeed a unique experience. Sometimes you’ll learn a lot being an outlier, as you get to fully observe what’s going on around you. Despite really knowing nothing much at all, since everyone is conversing in a language you have absolutely no idea about. I heavily relied on my host (read: translator), but when she had to attend to her family’s needs, I’m left to people-watch, and force myself to try and understand the meaning of what’s happening at the time.
Maybe not a lot of people understand this, but I get a serious kick out of being part of the minority. That’s pretty much the main reason why I’m here and why I want to keep on travelling.