Everyday we eat food to satisfy our hunger and maintain our energy levels. Taste is one of the 5 senses that I treasure and am grateful for each and every day.
Today I felt like eating Vietnamese pho and fortunately, I have a Vietnamese restaurant that is only a 5 minutes walk from my Toronto home. Coincidentally, world renown chefs are known to frequent this little family-run restaurant. So they concur that this little gem in my neighborhood does bring back sweet memories to all who have visited or once lived in Vietnam.
For $10 CAD (plus tip), I can enjoy this delicious pho with duck, bamboo shoot and congealed pig’s blood.
As I sat there eating my usual pho, I could not help but think back the Best Pho I ever tasted…
It was one fine day in early June, it was close to the end of my 20-day journey in Vietnam. While walking from my hotel to the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, I felt the pangs of hunger. I looked up and down the streets. So many different offerings could be had in proper restaurants. I had no idea where to start.
Then I spotted a street vendor with one customer, positioned right in front of a small bank machine on the sidewalk. I took a look at the local man’s lunch and started salivating. I sat down right beside him on a little plastic stool and smiled to the vendor with my index finger raised. No words exchange. She understood I wanted one bowl of pho.
I checked to see if she spoke Cantonese like some other local Vietnamese but we’re in the North and most Cantonese speakers live in the South in and around Saigon or now known as Ho Chi Minh City. She systematically held up each of her ingredients for me to choose. Each item still freshly stored in the plastic bag, from the local market. She had 2 different type of noodles – I couldn’t decide. The men offered to show me he has both types and I figured that’s a great idea! She quickly cooked everything for me – right in front of my eyes!!
As she cooked my lunch, I checked out her cart. It’s completely custom made! She has one giant pot of homemade soup and a burner underneath to keep it on a rolling boil. All items are kept separated from each other. A bucket for the dirty dishes which she’ll wash at home when she sells out.
Nothing could be as authentic as this experience. I was more than happy to hand over my $10000 VND, which is equivalent to approximately $1!!! She was happy to see I enjoyed every bite. WIN – WIN!!
I know eating on the street may be viewed as “not safe”. However, it is not difficult to assess the situation yourself to see if the food is prepare under “safe conditions”. There is risk involved in everything – including breathing in “fresh” air.
Live a little. Life is short…