Here I sit, in my ideal state. Red wine in hand, Eddie Vedder’s ukulele album playing in the background and my head filled with the thoughts, smells and taste of the street food that I have been enthusiastically consuming over the past couple of weeks.
For me, Vietnam has the best food in South-East Asia. Bold statement I know but one I will die for! The simple mix of fresh herbs, sugar, chilli and fish sauce is a taste of which I will never grow weary. Whether it be in the form of fresh spring rolls, a steaming bowl of pho or the grilled pork skewers made by the little old lady on the corner,the freshness of Vietnamese food is second to none.
Of course, being in Vietnam, pho has made up a significant part of my diet for the last fortnight. It is the national dish of choice and really warms you up in these colder months up in the mountains of the north-west. Now I am half way down the country in Hoi An. I think it is fair to say that Hoi An is the ‘Paris of Vietnam’, considering its artistic culture, cafe scene and romantic atmosphere.
Anyway, I digress… Back to the food.
Everyday in Vietnam is a new day of culinary discovery for me. Last time I was here, 10 years ago, I was only a young chap and decided to lean towards the safety net of avoiding street food. One of my biggest regrets in life, hence I am making up for it now!
While the pho and spring rolls have a place in my heart, my favourite morsel to date is definitely the grilled pork skewers. The thinly sliced pork is marinated in chilli and crushed lemongrass and makes for the perfect snack on the run. And at 30 cents a skewer, it is hard to settle for just a few.
The price of streetfood here is not the only bonus. The flavours are authentic and the produce is fresh, which is usually guaranteed by the high turnover. Lining up for food off a street vendor also gives you an excuse to stop and chat to the locals without appearing to be that ‘over the top tourist’ who tries too hard to become a part of the local scene. As the little old lady smiles at me with her only three teeth, thrusting the hot pork skewers into my hand, I only have happy thoughts.