Friday, August 10, 2012

Food for thought?

So one of the most frequent questions we get from back home is "what are you eating?" So to respond to this question are the following photos of what we have been eating, enjoy :)
Here's Michael with his first meal in Vietnam - a bowl of crab/seafood soup that he says was possibly some of the best soup he's ever had with the exception of the small pieces of shell he had to look out for (a lot of the food here has shell or bone pieces in it). This was taken in HCMC and happens to be where he met the illustrious Mr. Tham or whoever that took us on the motorbike tour.
Forbidden fruit anyone? :) I couldn't get over how weird it was to see this fruit in person, let alone full trays of them at the roadside markets. They are called waterapples apparently and taste pretty good, but very surreal. And I don't think I know anything more now either ;)
Here's a classic dish here - Pho (pronounced fuh). People around here eat it all of the time, you can get it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner if you like - and some days we actually did that before we found the grocery store. It's actually pretty good, it's a broth based soup with rice noodles, some meat of your choosing, and then you can mix in herbs like mint, coriander, or some other greens I'm not sure of, as well as lime juice, chilis, or vegetables. The drink on the left is called (phonetically) Cha Dah - which is iced tea, the standard drink around here. It's usually green tea or jasmine green tea. Michael loves it, but I'm not sure I want to drink green tea. **As an update for any worried peeps back home, we asked our branch President about the Cha dah, and he said that they generally recommend against drinking it as it is a derivative of tea and should be treated as such, so we've decided not to drink it. It may be debatable back in Utah, but here we will follow what our local leaders recommend**
Here's what the typical roadside restaurant looks like, one place we ate Pho often before we moved into our house. A lot of places we eat look like this though.
The restaurants here are nuts! Here's a pizza place, obviously. We didn't eat pizza here but we had it at a place across the street that was pretty good but didn't have much marinara sauce and our veggie pizza had corn on it, but all in all not too bad. Pizza is kind of a gourmet food around here, it's fairly expensive and only "rich people" eat there according to our Vietnamese friends.
Welcome to lunch! This is a squid dish with rice and some other veggies, which I think we got at a place for lunch where you can pick out 3 or 4 things from the various foods they've cooked that day and you get it served with rice, which is actually quite good and lots of food for 20000VND, a little less than $1.
Here's me eating something I never thought I would - my first squid - but how can you say no to a table full of Vietnamese people anxious to have you try the food? I made Michael eat the head/legs part, that was too creepy. It tastes kind of like a chewier chicken, not too bad but not my favorite either. That's Michael's coworker Minh next to me.
When we were out with Minh and the Gameloft guys they had us try the squid as well as these oysters  full of onions and garlic - my first oysters too, they were pretty good but only because they didn't taste like oysters - and the dish at the top is jellyfish (the clearer white stuff). The jellyfish wasn't too bad, but I got mine with some young mango so it gave it texture. Michael describes it as "wet gummy bears" texture, but he liked it I think.
We also got some fish soup at dinner with shrimp. They don't peel any shrimp here, you're supposed to eat them whole. Minh says the shell will "give you more calcium" - although at first he slipped and said cancer instead of calcium and we all had a good laugh. He's really nice. 
No, I didn't buy these, but I wanted proof that they have imported Kirkland brand food here just the same - totally nuts. And they cost the same as they would back at Costco too - around $12-$13, very pricey for here.
Here's another plate of lunch. I do love the stir-fried/steamed greens with garlic, so good! Michael loves the little crabs, which you are also supposed to eat whole and so he does, shell and all. He says it's very thin so it's easy to eat, but our French friends still peel them anyway and tell Michael he's strange :)
Not the best photo of me, I'll admit, but it was a great dinner. This is a fried eggplant burger from a restaurant owned by an American lady who's lived here for 15 years. It's called the Bread of Life and it has American, English, and Australian foods, but mostly classic American dishes. We even had pancakes there the first Saturday we were in town. Michael had a pulled pork sandwich and fries. The best thing we've had there so far though is that chocolate chip cookie I am eating in the photo, it was the most amazing thing ever after being in Vietnam for a while. Seriously, Grandma you would have been impressed, it tasted almost as good as yours. The message behind the restaurant is really neat, so I urge you to visit the website and check it out :)


Miranda said...

Mike isn't going to want to hear this, but green tea is still against the Word of Wisdom. It's the same plant that regular tea is from, it's just harvested younger. There's still caffeine and tannin in it. Justin wasn't allowed to have it on his mission.

Mike and Risa said...

That is an interesting topic. Michael and I have known it's from the same plant for quite some time, but it is definitely a debatable subject with the WOW. Working at a health food store in Utah makes that ever more apparent as people from all stations of the church would drink many different kinds of greet tea unknowingly or on purpose. At the moment he is following his own decisions but I will let him know about Justin's experience and we will see where he goes with it.

Sherri said...

That's it. I would waste away to nothing and go poof into dust. Good job for trying the local cuisine.

Miranda said...

Me personally, I don't really care about the green tea thing. I actually hate the taste of most teas, so that's my decision there. Sometimes it's necessary to drink teas when the local water isn't good (a la my teacher when she was in Western Samoa. It also can help fight off local diseases and parasites.