Monday, December 3, 2007

what are these?

so i came upon some interesting green things at the market the other day, i am interested in what those stalks are above the celery, and below the rhambutan and dragonfruit. It looks tasty and i am just waiting for the day i have a kitchen and can cook them up.

Also I am interested in what these are? I have only seen them once. looks like lime berries.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A couple of moments I can't quite shake.

Two of the most beautiful, or I should say moving moments, I have had in Vietnam have come just wandering the streets this past week. Both were heart wrenching almost cinematic moments which replay themselves over and over again in my head like I was watching a Iranian movie by Kiarostami, or Makhmalbaf then rewinding it again and again it to my favorite scenes. Except this wasn't a movie but instead real peoples lives which I had brief glimpses into.

The fist occurred when I was riding on the back of a xe om (motorbike taxi). We were on a busy street and I spotted a funeral procession. In Vietnam a small band usually precedes a funeral procession and this procession was no different. The band was sitting on a bench in the back of a small cargo truck playing away and it seemed the van was getting further and further away from the ornately decorated truck which was caring the casket. Soon they were separated by hundreds of cars, and I could barley hear the music playing. Looking at the glossy tear drenched faces of the deceased relatives riding along with the casket it really got to me. There was something about the separation of the musicians from the rest of the procession that made me want to cry. It was such a sad, solemn moment.

The next happened when I was waiting in line at an ATM when I saw an old man with either his daughter or granddaughter. They slowly walked passed on the side of the road briefly stopping for each person, stretching out a frayed hat for donations.. He had on dark sunglasses and a floppy hat, his head was tilted down with one of his hands was on her shoulder as if she was leading him. In his other hand was an old microphone that was attached to what looked like a beat up bullhorn speaker, which was tucked under her arm. From his mouth and out of that speaker came one of the softest most beautiful voices I have ever heard. He was singing what I imagined to have been a sad Vietnamese folksong, slightly distorted and echoey as though it was being sent through some sort of delay or reverb filter. I still hear that voice and I still see them walking.

I don't know how to feel about all this, I feel somewhat like a voyeur into peoples suffering, and people tragedy, but I just can stop thinking about these two moments.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Seals and Bicycles

I choose to believe this signs says "seals riding bicycles are prohibited". Today I signed up for Vietnamese and dan bau lessons which both start next week. I hope learning Vietnamese will not dissuade me from this belief. Because that would be sad if not downright cruel.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Saigon Rocks!

So after a little investigation I found out about a little Halloween metal concert with a buffet in some sort of community center/gym/pool called the workers club at 55 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. It took the previous day to convince Kate to come along with me though she was still a bit skeptical. (it might have been the buffet which convinced her, not the fact that she was hungry mind you, just the concept of a Metal Buffet). Anyway when we arrived it was everything i had hoped for, old hairy Vietnamese men rocking out on stage and the crowd going wild. After about 5 minutes i was grabbed by this 6'5" shaggy Croatian man who offered me a beer and a few broken English words. the show was exactly what I needed, to get away from ex-pat and backpacker bars that are the only thing around the area which i live and i find pretty depressing. Later we met this guy named Greg who works for the Australian councilate who led us to this other rock bar where all the Vietnamese rocker kids hang out, play shows, and do something which looks like rock n' roll karaoke. He also spoke of some sort of metal arena called "the golden fish" that exists in district 5 on Wednesdays which sounds promising. It was so nice to meet some non teachers, and people that were interested in seeking out the local scene. It made me feel a lot better about living here. amazing what a little metal can do.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday Night Bar Food.

So, on Sunday there was an anniversary party for the school I am teaching at. There was food and drinks and karaoke on the roof of course, although it was dominated mostly by the Vietnamese staff. I did manage to get in a Madonna song (get into the groove) that went over fairly well. After the party was shut down a few of us went to a bar near the hotel where I am staying to get one final drink. I spotted a dried squid snack cart rolling down the street, so I ordered one up, and here are the results.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Lunch

For lunch I stopped in at the corner pho shop I am calling, "Pho Ga Mien Ga", because thats what it said on on its overhang, athough it might just be the menu.
I ordered the pho bo kho, a spicy beef pho. The pho itself was ok, full of big chunks of stewed beef and its fatty parts, only a tad spicy so I threw in more peppers and pepper sauce, 'cause thats how I roll. One of the things I am still trying to get use to is the eating of fatty parts, tendons and those small meaty boney pieces. Before I left Seattle, Angela did well to convince me on the virtues of these strange parts and I got in the habit of ordering soft tendons in my pho at Than Brothers whenever I went. It still feels forced thought, its just not my natural inclination to like these things and I definitely do not crave them. I just make do and like the flavors despite the odd parts. Anyway, the most exciting part of the meal was the herb tray to the right of bowl

and this herb in particular. I don't know what it is, but it had this interesting taste that was vaguely familiar, though I couldn't place it. I found it much more interesting than the soup itself which I can still feel my stomach digesting.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A reflection on Seattle Suburban Eating.

Back in Seattle, a group of us which included: Angela Garbes, Matt Hodge, Christina Choi, and Angela's friend Dawn, would venture out to eat in suburban Seattle trying to discover the hidden ethnic culinary delights of the region. Before hand, I would do some research using Chowhound as a guide, then we would all hop either matt's crazy van or cram into cars to explore. I loved finding hidden food delights such as Salva/Mex in Burien and the Armenian Bakery at Crossroads Mall, but my favorite part of the whole experience was Shopping in all Indian/Russian/Mexican/Asian markets, finding interesting ingredients, then getting back together on Wednesdays to cook up a meal under the guidance of our master chef Christina Choi and watch Lost. I think this club could do some serious damage here in HCMC. Come on guys lets make it happen. Although I need to find a place to live soon, because I seriously miss having a kitchen. Its killing me.