Vietnam, Food Monsoon

i just got back from vietnam where it’s monsoon season.
lucky for me, the weather was spectacular.
my brother and sister-in-law live there.
through them and their wonderfully eclectic circle of friends, 
i experienced central and northern vietnam
in a unique and adventuresome way.
the food…was…incredible!
here are some highlights 
(had to sneak in a pic of the beach and warm ocean water)
northern style pho bo (beef noodle soup)  
best bahn mi (pork sandwich) in hoi an
no trip is complete without visiting the market 
rambutan fruit
fresh hibiscus 
mesmerizing knife proficiency  
crowd controlled crabs 
traditional fishing boats
-essentially, enormous woven baskets-
my sister-in-law makes the best 
bun cha (marinated bbq pork with noodles and greens) 
on the face of the planet
-sadly, i failed to capture the beauty of the final dish-
nem lui (bbq pork roll)  
make it yourself, your way
 thin slices of green banana add crunch
and unique flavor  
if you like,
take a bite of red chili and/or garlic with each bite of nem
for a little extra spice 
bahn xeo (crispy rice pancake) — filled with 
shrimp, pork and bean sprouts 
can be eaten by themselves, or also made into a roll
lunch for two — with beverages — was a whopping
$4 US
and we couldn’t finish it all
a surprising little factoid — to me, at least:  
vietnam is the world’s largest producer of
black pepper 
i love that hanoi is a city filled with 24 hour food shops.
we caught the mien ngan (duck noodles) shift late one night
 kumquats are a typical accompaniment and nice addition to this dish
along with the ubiquitous hot sauces and super hot sliced chilies —
which our table mate (rightly) suggested adding for the photo 
at the end of the trip,
my sister-in-law took me to her village 
where we walked through acres of spectacular gardens

not only was everything meticulously planted and maintained,
the aroma of the herbs was phenomenal

here:  ginger chicken, perfectly cooked garden vegetables, 
sauteed cabbage, spring rolls, pork stew

 i ate so much amazing food on this trip!
the most special food experience 
was the meal shared with 
my sister in law and her family 
in the house her parents built, where she was raised,
on the edge of those gardens and rice fields

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