I like Vietnamese cuisine. My first experience was at being invited to the wedding of my hootchmaid--what we called a cleaning lady during the war. This was an unusual event, because soldiers were not invited into homes of the local population. For some reason, I was different (duh!) and was accepted. There was a risk involved, because I had to leave the safety of the compound, drive a jeep into Qui Nhon, and find her "home", which was in a shanty village and made from discarded wood, metal, and cardboard. To my surprise, I was guest of honor and spent the time being stared at by local children.
Anyways, this is supposed to be about food. The wedding "feast" was chicken, which I learned was a rare treat. It was tasty.
My next run-in with Vietnamese food was at a restaurant in my village. A Vietnamese couple had taken a lease on a German Gasthaus and provided authentic food. The woman worked the kitchen, making everything herself, and the man served drinks. I saw this same practice in Vietnam, where women do most of the work and men tend to relax in hammocks or talk amongst themselves. The food is always fresh and excellent. I prefer most dishes to Chinese or Thai, which are favorites with Germans. Less hot spices are used, but fish sauce is difficult to avoid.
We were fortunate to be served excellent food at each stop on our visit to Vietnam. To prove the point, I offer a few photos of dishes. You will have to take my word on flavorfulness.
Fortunately, we had lunch before visiting the old town. Food shops do not believe in western-style presentation, ie. in refrigerator cases, and are governed by less-stringent statutes. Raw meat lies on tables beside the street in the heat and humidity, which causes one to wonder about hygiene. People seem to be healthy and happy, so they must be doing something right.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.