One of the most exciting aspects of travel is trying the often new and interesting foods one encounters along the way, wouldn’t you say? The cuisines of Asia and especially Southeast Asia are the most pleasing to my palate, specifically, in Vietnam where great food is everywhere, in cafes and restaurants. However the best is is often found on the streets, sold by vendors cooking their specialty over a small brazier. Have you ever sat on a child size plastic stool downing a bowl of pho ba for breakfast on a Hanoi sidewalk? Heavenly!
A year from now, I plan to live here. I will move to a small fishing village in a coastal area of Vietnam near Hoi An. I have no idea what I’m going to do there. –Anthony Bourdain
So just what is it about Vietnamese cuisine? To me it is the preponderance of fresh vegetables and herbs lightly cooked. Meat, and a surprisingly wide variety of animal parts are utilized, and are typically used sparingly. Vietnam has strong vegetarian roots influenced by their Buddhist traditions. The cuisine is based on the principles of Yin and Yang in regards to the selection of ingredients. By matching dishes with seasonal or climatic conditions, or with the environment with the current physical well being of the diners the dishes are created to achieve balance. One example is that spicy food is very hot and extremely yang and is harmonized by sour which is very Yin. It is also influenced by the Asian concept of five elements of Mahābhūta, “The five elements correspondence,” which are spicy, sour, bitter, sweet, and hot. The seasonings is what makes the food so special. Regular ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes utilize lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander and Thai basil leaves. Of course, rice and rice noodles are a staple and present in some form at every meal. Vietnamese food is often ranked as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.
Wherever I travel I spend a lot of time wandering and photographing the markets. And Vietnam is “market nirvana.” these are a few of the hundreds of my market images from Vietnam showing many of the common and some of the less common foods of my favorite cuisine. Enjoy.
Click on thumbnail for a full size photo and slideshow.
For more great photography please visit my web site: Ron Mayhew Photography
Check in with my favorite travel writer, On the Go with Lynne.
Ailsa’s theme at Where’s my backpack this week is food.