Wednesday, 23 April 2014


After a relaxing three days in Langkawi, we embarked on a 12 day culinary tour of Vietnam starting in Hanoi.  The hustle and bustle of the capital city overrun with motorcycles and scooters put us into culture shock, especially after the peace and quiet on idyllic Langkawi.   This was on top of the cold and damp that greeted us after flying in from the tropical island.  The pace too was quite different - we would be travelling with company and on a schedule, so it was the end of sleeping-in and the alarm clock was put to work.  We were however thankful and relieved that our "small group tour" turned out to be a really "small" group of four and the other couple was down to earth and really compatible with our travelling interests.

Our first meal in Vietnam was a welcome dinner hosted by the tour company and you can read about this meal on Foodsparks.  Our first tour day included a half day cooking class and a trip to the local market, which was an eye-opening experience.  Read more about our first Vietnamese cooking class on Foodsparks.  Below are photos from our local market tour which was in a sense cultural as it gave us a good sense of what the locals ate and how they lived.

A woman cutting off the heads of baby shrimps outside the market

This is Chou Long Market, a medium sized market in the old quarter of Hanoi

Locals shopping on a rainy day - parts of it are not covered
Our instructor pointing out pigs' intestines and tails 

These two chickens are tied up in a special way for wedding celebrations
Poultry giblets and eggs

You would never know unless you've been told - some of these eggs have embryos inside!  Our instructor purchased one of each (chicken and duck) so we could try them

and different kinds of snails!

Vietnamese cooked meats, including pork and beef sausages in banana leaf (Cha Heo and Cha Bo) 

Pickled vegetables

Many of the herbs used in Vietnamese cooking

We never seem to see much vegetables on Vietnamese restaurant menus whether in Vietnam or in North America.  But here they are in the market!

Finely julienned onions and a woman demonstrating the tool used...

Fresh bamboo - although we never got to taste this in Vietnam.  Now if I had my own kitchen there...

A wide array of roots and squash

These looked like they came straight from the farm!

These are the sweetest and most fragrant mangoes ever!  The best out of our entire trip!

Fresh flowers in abundance

even fresh flowers (and wine) for the gods 

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