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Vietnamese Food

Dec 21 2023

Vietnamese food has gained in popularity in recent years and many celebrity chefs have had their recreation of popular dishes like phở and bánh mì. However, the food tradition of Vietnam is much more than that. Influenced from the north by the Chinese, the south by Indian flavours. The French have also left their mark. Unique regional ingredients and local tastes have contributed to a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures.

Fundamentally, Vietnamese cuisine is a balance of customs, beliefs and the senses built around Fives. The five fundamental taste senses (ngũ vị): spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (earth), corresponding to five organs (ngũ tạng): gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and urinary bladder. The five types of nutrients (ngũ chất): powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein, and fat. The five colours (ngũ sắc): white (metal), green (wood), yellow (earth), red (fire) and black (water) in their dishes. Finally, the five senses (năm giác quan): sight, sounds, taste, smell, and feel or texture.

What it comes down to is an intricate and complex balance of flavours, scent and texture that vary from region to region, season to season and sometimes, village to village. In the north, the flavours tend to be delicate and refined in their connection to the old tradition. The centre, a former Imperial seat, is heavily spiced from the access to spices and is an explosion of fiery Imperial tempers. The south with her abundance is a festival of flavours, of herbs, of coconuts and of sweetness like the people.

A food tour of Vietnam needs to be about where the locals eat. It is about the local eats.

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