I had to share this E from LTB in the wilds of asia. It's long but it's worthwhile, I wish I could have afforded to go with him. Though, no dog for me, thanks.
Date: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:29:24 AM America/New_York
To: "Benjamin Godsill"
Subject: Roof; Going To the Country Gunna Eat Me alot o' Chicken
Ive been hanging out with this guy, Trung. Hes my advisor, motorbike
driver and friendly marijuana dealer.
Eating In Asia has gotten me preety used to eating just about anything and
throwing western concepts of where and what to eat out the window... Food
thats suposed to be served warm sitting at room temputure for 8 hours; no
problem, Pig gut congee with blood sausges, bring it on, fertilized eggs,
in their third trimester, yummy. With that in mind I decided to try the
pinicle of Vietnamese cullinary achievment... Dog.
When I mentioned this to Trung he happly took me to the section of Honoi
where one can procure said delicacy. Dog Meat alley is easily discernable
by the numourous pictures of lassy beconing costomers to eat dog. The
travel book explained that only during the first half of the lunar month
is it considered lucky to eat dog, and in the second half most of the dog
establishments are closed.
Well it must have been the wrong time of the month because many places
were closed and the ones that were open retained few costomers. Trung
picked out a place for us, parked his moter-bike and off we went. The
meal began by taking off ones shoes and sitting crosslegged on a rasied
platform covered with thin bamboo matts. Then came the raw vegtables that
acompony most vietnamese meals. Next came the sauces; lime sauce, the
ubiqitous fish sauce, and the famous fermented crushed unpasturized shrimp
shit. This afermentioned shit, imagine taking a five pound wheel of the
stinkiest blue cheese and some how extracting all the blue chessy stinky
essense... Then imagine conectrating all that stink down to a drop or
two... Now imagine a soup bowl full of it.
After the sauces the meat started ariving. On an New York menu this meal
might apear as a seven course tasting menu of dog, ya got your dog
kidneys, dog sausage, sliced dog, deep fried dog skin (little hairs
intact) and your dog curry. All of these preperations tasted good. The
curry was the most interesting and unlike any other curry I have had.
Think a steak dry rub moinstened with a little fish sauce. Regardless of
its inherent tastyness I could not stop thinking about how I was eating
fucking dog. After trying all of the dishes I made the unfortunent
mistake of liberally dipping some dog liver in shrimp shit. This was my
last taste of the night.
The next day Trung took me to the Ho-Chi-Minh masuleom and Meuseam. The
moseualeum was interesting in a star wars meets brave new world sort of
way. Groups are lead in single file through perfectly pollished sterile
black marble intersecting at aproprietly futuristic angles. Finallly Uncle
Ho apears as fresh faced as if he had died yesterday, sourounded by
menicing looking gaurds and saourinded by comunist iconigrophy.
After visiting the meuseam and reading a little big about Ho, I cant help
but think he was a preety cool buy. Western educated, lived in Parisand
London to name a few, and to top it all off worked with Escofier in London
(cullinary pioneer.) In addition he seemed to live a very modest life
style and really belived in what he was doing. At the end of the day Trung
said to me "What you want do tommorow, want go country? Chicken ok for me
Now I'm sure you've heard of the Asian Flu crisis. While Thailand has
dealt with it by declaring "National Chicken Eating Day" complete whith PM
cermoniusly devouring said creture; Vietnam has outlawed their consumption
and chickens have subsequently disaperead from Vietnamese markets and
restaurants. When Trung offered to take me to his chicken farm to sample
the illicit goods I enthusiastically accepted.
The day started at 9am, and it was raining. Traveling around asia one gets
used to taking short jaunts on the back of a motor-bike but I was a little
nervouse about a 70km ride,it wouldbe my longest, this compuded by the
rain, and my wake and bake stonieness made me a little nervouse. When we
got to Trungs house in the country preperations were under way.
The house had several chickens, ducks, and a half acre farm, along with
electrcity and no running water. All the cooking was done either on a
stove that was poured by charchole and aded by a small fan that pushed air
through the fire. A very hot way to cook. A large bed of ash 5 feet by
two feet took care of any slow cooking.
Trungs family picked out an old looking rooster and went to work, slowly
killing the animal while butchering it. Kolrabi and lettuce were pciked
from the garden while the neighboors plot was raided for fresh tomatoes.
When the meal arrived after a few hours it looked real good. Im sad to
say that it did not taste as good as it looked. Ive never eaten rooster
before but can understand why the french use it in a slow powerfully
flavored braise. The rooster turned out tough and had and intese chicken
flavor. Oh well I hardly remember most of the meal as I was being fed
shot after shot of homemade rice whisky.. I ended up chewing a bettle
nut, vietnams answer to chewing tabacco, this caused great pain on my part
for days to come.
A good way to leave vietname. I go to Tokyo this evening and am really
looking forward to it, but I will miss good old 'Nam.
UPDATE: Yea there are a bunch of spelling errors, etc. but the dude is in tokyo now and paying close to a third the GDP of maine for every minute of internet time he is using, cut him some slack.