For those that don’t know my eating habits I am not unreasonable with my eating but by the same token I am not super adventurous. Dave is the one who will order things with no idea what is in it whereas I tend to stick to chicken, pork or beef and play it fairly safe. In Vietnam that is fairly easy, the biggest hurdle is to ensure that the chicken that I have ordered it not gizzards or something similar (they really like offal here). That said, for the adventurous eater there is a world of weird food out there to be eaten.
Unlike Thailand where insects are the main form of bizarre food, Vietnamese cuisine seems to encompass just about everything that moves. Indeed I have heard stories of specialist snake menus where you literally eat every part of the snake right down to the bile and heart in a shot of spirit – blech!!! Definitely not my idea of gastronomy. I had broken out of the norm one night by being bold enough to order deep fried frogs legs which I would chalk up as a big why bother. They were like fiddly chicken wings with less meat and just not that great to justify the hassle. Even so I was pretty proud of myself for being so adventurous.
However, that said our Vietnam journey would not have been complete had we not taken a food tour (every city has one) so with encouragement from the NZ couple who had joined us on the Can Tho river cruise we booked in to Mekong Tours Can Tho Food Tour.
It was a walking tour where a young gentleman, Thoai (T-why), took us to 6 of his favourite restaurants to sample the local specialities. The price was right; free but a $5 tip if you enjoyed it and the cost of whatever you ate, and the night was fine so off we went.
Wow, what a night. We began with a duck hotpot in a restaurant famous in Can Tho for this speciality dish. It had been in business for over 20 years and I can see why. The food was really good. Basically a big boiling pot of duck soup is delivered to the table with a heap of noodles, vegetables, herbs all of which you add to the pot and serve into individual bowls. Well it was all good until I hit the side dish of “Vietnamese cheese”. Turns out this little delicacy is tofu marinated (?) in alcohol. I didn’t find out the serving instructions for this lovely little gift and tipped my whole bowl into my soup. Ooops!! Turns out you only add a little at a time because it is so strong. I would equate it to strong blue cheese and as a consequence I think I might have wrecked my duck hotpot as all I could taste was strong old socks 🙂 but it was still a new flavour and something to be aware of for future eats.
Anyway, onwards to make your own rice paper rolls. These were delicious and we have tried them quite a few times already. It is a fun process and the fillings vary enormously. On the tour it was slices of locally made pork sausage and heaps of herbs and leaves. Absolutely delicious and fun to watch those less experienced than us wrestle with the rice papers.
Next was a local delicacy made in only one restaurant, a special kind of “muffin” with pork mince, bean paste and a prawn on top. At this point I decided to give it a miss (I was worried I’d be too full if I had one) but Dave raved about it.
Then came the moment I was dreading. At the start of the tour Thoai had told us where he would take us and what we would be eating and I knew it was coming… field mouse. Yep, you read that right. Mouse!!! One of the other girls on the tour felt much the same as I did (squeamish to say the least) so we made a pact that we would both have a go at it, “I’ll do it if you do it…” heheh
Shock!!!! It was terrific. Apparently there is only one restaurant in the whole city that does field mouse well and we were there. We were delivered a mouse divided into 6 portions and while it was definitely bony it was very tasty. Seemingly these mice are only found in the rice paddies and are highly prized. The whole group had a taste and in the end we even ordered seconds! Who would have thought.
Our next culinary stop was to try snake. Well, why else take a tour if not be adventurous. The snake was ok at best and not something I would line up to try again. It was a little tough and being crumbed and deep fried was not especially tasty. More sort of chewy and blah. Not unpleasant but not great.
To finish off our night we stopped at a roadside seller of dessert – sticky rice. She had a big pot with 4 different kinds of rice that she popped into a little paper cone. It was sweet and hot and really good. The black rice was my favourite as it had been cooked in coconut. Delicious.
So, there you have it. This unadventurous eater has now eaten frogs legs, field mouse and snake. Never would have believed it. Sometimes it is good to break out. I mean seriously – how bad can it be 😉 heheheheh.
Duck hot pot – the little bowls in front were the “Vietnamese cheese”.
Thoai teaching everyone how to make the rice paper rolls.
Field mouse. Sorry about the blurry photo. Not a great shot but it will show you what it looked like when we were served it.
Snake. The colours are a bit weird but we were on the street in the dark where the only light was a yellow street light. This was as close as I could get to what it really looked like.
Sticky rice seller.
Field mice – before 😉
Frogs legs – before 😉
Everywhere on the streets are great bowls of seafood. It is super fresh, caught that morning.
We will be away from the internet for the next couple of weeks so the next blog won’t happen soon (sorry for those that like a regular read). As soon as we are back online I’ll bring you up to date on our adventures. Got some exciting things happening 😉