Monday, February 18, 2008

Licking the street

My version of heaven goes like this: sitting on small plastic stools at a small fiberboard table covered with ripped plastic looking at little bowls full of chopped cilantro, sliced orange chiles, garlic in vinegar and a huge bowl of beef noodle soup.

In 2002 I decided to start traveling to cities and countries that I consider the tastiest – and Hanoi, Vietnam is right up there. Eating street food is dirty, smelly, uncomfortable and totally rewarding. Taking the first bite makes the grunge recede a little. The second bite makes you sort of “get it.” The third mouthful and you forget that you are not Vietnamese.

Looking for food on the streets in Vietnam is tricky. Most of it is cooked on the ground, on plastic stools, and it isn’t immediately obvious what it is that’s being served. And while that hasn’t ever really stopped us before, I know that Vietnam serves lots of stuff that even I’d be hesitant to eat: cock testicles, scorpions, cobra hearts, pig brain – I’ll be honest here, the only reason I’m not being more adventurous is because I know we have two more weeks of street eats and I don’t want to risk my immune system before we get to Saigon, where the real flavor starts.

Last night, the proprietor of our hotel, Flower, took us to get beef Pho, the staple in Vietnam. Mine had half a cow heart in it, ventricles and all. It was tasty, but not super appetizing to look at. So I didn’t take pictures. The memory resides in my stomach.

This was more shareable so I’m putting it out there for you to be jealous of. You know who you are. (Apologies to the vegetarians - there are pictures of animals that we ate)


Qiao said...

The Beef Pho looks soooo good! Pho in Hanoi must be amazing! Two days ago I went to a whole-pig dinner, meaning eating all parts of a pig, which was killed that very afternoon. I only had some liver and ribs. So I understand that you did not want to go too over board yet! Cheers!

Mai said...

is it me? because i'm horribly jealous! i'm licking the streets of hanoi vicariously.

and umm... i don't quite know how to ask this, cocks have testicles?

oh, i crack myself up... but, really, do they?

Coleman said...

I peed when I saw the look on that chicken's face:

"dude..... fuck...... you!"

i'd have ate her, too.

Ctown said...

i love how your pictures of chickens reads like a before and after slideshow. haha. tear. this from a former vegetarian...