Monday, December 3, 2007
Also I am interested in what these are? I have only seen them once. looks like lime berries.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
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
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
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, October 14, 2007
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
The eel was great, but I think I liked the the rice with the left over bits just a little bit more.
There is something about that lemongrass flavor when its gets all caramelized with meat and spices that is pretty special. I am starting to crave that flavor all the time now, and I am wondering why I haven't before. No, I am not telling you all where I went, but I am sure you can all guess.
They are playing a game of ESL charades and this is the last sentence that the students have to guess. I love how this scene includes a student in a headlock, a body slam, then full out rush on the charade mimes all for the sake of learning English. Believe it or not this is the well behaved class!
I have no idea what is in store for me. God help me!
Friday, October 12, 2007
I headed back to Ben Thanh market for dinner tonight half way intending to eat under a new canopy but the memories of my last bites of the pork clay pot and the throngs of people I saw packed underneath convinced me this was the place I needed to be. I was right. Now my new goal is to eat everything on their menu. First of I got a san Miguel beer, or I should say it got me. It seems there are such things called San Miguel Girls who tell you how great it would be for you to order a San Miguel Beer and then disappear, so I did. Plus it was only fifty cents. Food wise, I started out with some Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Dried Beef Papaya Salad), which was great.
The papaya was shredded much finer than I have had before almost rice stick like and the beef was dried yes but not like jerky, somewhat tender and full of flavor. I followed this with the obligatory garlic bread for which I found a new use, which I will get too.
I wanted a clay pot again but this time I went for the fish (Ca Kho To) to diversify it was good of course but didn’t quite have the same flavor as the pork, but does anything really? (disregarding lamb, that is.)
The best part about the clay pot was I remembered to save my garlic bread, so I could sop up the extra clay pot sauce… And that my friends tasted amazing, a final bite for which Angela Garbes could be proud.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
This seemed like a good choice because of the numbers of people already there and the now pounding rain. As I started ordering, I had an idea I could outlast the rain while I sampled dishes till the rain ceased. First I had some pork skewers that were standard and delicious, followed by water spinach with garlic and what i am assuming was some fish sauce or paste and grit which i am assuming was dirt. The rain continued, so I couldn't resist an order of garlic bread, a guilty pleasure, but i started to get nervous that the rain might last longer than I anticipated.
I was getting full, but decided to order one more dish, the pork braised in clay pot. It came simmering to the table still hot from the charcoal brazier in a flavorful and syrupy sauce,
it was definitely my favorite.
It became clear that the rain was not going to let up, so I decided to make a break for it. Hunting down a poncho rather quickly I waded through over a foot of water in places for about a mile. I understand why people are all about flip flops and sandals now, and i will be looking for some shortly as well.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
So, my first day in HCMC or Saigon if you prefer was filled with walking, sweating sleeping and eating. The weather here is hot and sticky and feels much hotter than when I was in Tucson just a few days ago, though the temperatures are the same. Funny how a little humidity can get you all hot, damp and sweaty. Anyway, I ended up eating phổ twice today and not coincidently I think they were two best bowls of phổ I have had in my life. The first was at Phổ 2000, clean and air-conditioned with stainless steel tables near Bến Thành Market, it was nice enough for a president to visit. (Pictures on the wall seemed to indicate that one did, Bill Clinton stopped in for some delicious phổ sometime in the late nineties on his trip through Việt Nam) I ordered a seafood phổ filled with fish, squid, clams and tofu and topped with copped fresh dill. I have to admit, dill is one of my favorite herbs so, although I was surprised that it came with dill rather than basil and sprouts, I absolutely loved it!I also found this excellent food blog for HCMC called noodlepie and I am using as a launching pad for my food explorations, so I got my next bowl of phổ at Phổ 24 because of noodlepie’s raving review. Again it was really good. The difference between the phổ I have been eating here and in Seattle is mostly two things. First the noodles are fresh, have excellent texture, and even have some flavor! The second is the broth, its just really, really good.