Monday 20 May 2019

How do you document real life? Food!

Hello there! We survived the kids' first overseas trip, and we're back into the groove of regular, every day life. Our holiday already seems so long ago, so I guess that means it's time to start planning another one? It honestly went better than I'd imagined. The flights were fine - my kids were quite happy to spend hours at a time with uninterrupted screen time, and quite frankly, I also enjoyed being able to catch up on some movies too. The main downside of flying with kids, for me, was that they are too short to close the bathroom door latch on the plane, which meant that every toilet request required that I squish into the tiny bathroom with them... joys of parenthood. 

There are many things I could talk about, describing our holiday. Like, how the kids were amazed at the number of motorbikes over there, and crossing the roads was a case of taking a deep breath, stepping out and hoping that everyone would swerve around. Or, how the kids had to be coaxed onto a bike at first, and then were naturals, hopping on and off easily while joining 5 other people on that same bike. Or, going to the beach and seeing what looked like pirate flags everywhere and finally realising as we left the water itchy after swimming that they were caution flags warning of jellyfish. Or the way my daughter (who speaks no Vietnamese) made friends with a little girl who spoke no English yet they became firm friends and bonded over clothes and that vile baby shark song (YouTube link for you lucky individuals who don't know it by heart).

We spent a lot of time with family over there, doing what Asian families do best of course - eating! It's how I mentally catalog many of my holidays - what I ate, and I think it's a great pictorial representation of a place. When we travel, I like to eat where the locals do, and in Asia, that tends to be street food, hawker style, where the food is fresh, cheap and some of the tastiest I've ever had. So here we go with some highlights!

Pho. A Vietnamese staple, this was from a tiny little store that was so fresh and tasty. Here's my bowl of vegan pho with tofu, faux meats, hoisin sauce and liberal doses of wonderfully spicy chillies on top.
And Mr Fork's meat version, with slivers of rare beef, and his favourite mix of chilli and hoisin sauces for dipping. He said I couldn't honestly document Vietnam and not include authentic meat pho. 6 giant bowls, tea and drinks, with unlimited soup cost us the equivalent of about $12 AUD.
Not a great photo, but one of my favourite drinks is fresh sugarcane, juiced in front of you, and mixed with fresh lime and sometimes mint. It's about 40c per glass. Surprisingly despite it's delicious sweetness my kids didn't love it, so I got to drink it all myself! My other favourite thing to drink is fresh coconuts, literally chopping a hole in the top and sticking in a straw. They also weren't fans, so I didn't have to share. Haha.
Bahn mi. I so love these things, and posted nearly daily pictures while we were away. There is a vendor just down the road who specialises in vegan bahn mi, making them to order. Stuffed with greens, cucumber, carrot, bamboo, tofu, chilli and sauce, on the freshest baked bread roll. They cost 60c over there, as opposed to an average $6 here, and there is no comparison.
Fresh fruits, with eager toddler hand. So cheap, so good, and so tasty. Here's a selection of some of our favourites - dragonfruit, pineapple, mango, guava and sour apple. In the middle is a dish of chilli salt which is amazing to dip the fruit in for a delicious contrast of tastes.
On the topic of fruit, we took the kids to one of the floating markets, where wares are sold from boats. Vendors will motor up, anchor themselves to your boat and offer samples of the day's offering to try to get you to buy. They have scales on board and you pay by weight. On the below boat are fresh papaya, jackfruit (yum!), durian (yum!), mango and avocado. I took special care to try to eat my body weight in jackfruit and durian over there. I can't get the same quality here, and certainly not the same freshness - I'm looking at you stinky durian! I know it's not to everyone's taste, but I love them, even if Mr Fork avoids me after consumption as he says he can smell the durian for ages *shrug*
Rambutan, sour apple, watermelon and longan.
I ate many variations of this filling salad. Near as I can tell, it's got bamboo, tofu, shredded vegetables, banana flowers, loads of fresh herbs and the dressing has citrus, loads of zingy spices and peanuts. It often came with vegan prawn crackers to use as a sort of salad scoop but often the kids ate those plain and I had the salad minus crackers. I recommend.
Have I said how much I love food? Look at this. It's fresh, colourful and delicious, going down far too easily. This was the vegan portion of a group buffet lunch (aka, all mine!). Clockwise from top right: glutinous rice and sweet potato, ubiquitous chillies, tofu and seasonal vegetable mix, turmeric pancake stuffed with bean sprouts and tofu, spring rolls, iced tea, soup. Not able to fit in the picture: cauliflower vegetable mix and fresh fruit to finish. I can honestly say I walked (rolled!) away from all my meals very happy.
I could go on and on, but maybe just one more. The plumpest, tastiest mushrooms I have had in awhile. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) this was at a seafood restaurant where the rest of the table had crab done in about six different ways. I had this - tasty shiitake mushrooms and ginger with greens, over rice. So simple, so good, and just delicious.
What a long food filled post. It was a wonderful holiday, so much fun, and a delicious way to introduce my children to a new culture. I think 'eat where the locals eat' is definitely the best way to digest a new place (see what I did there?!).


  1. How wonderful to take your children to learn a bit about your culture and to join in family meals. All the food looks fascinating - honestly some of it looks a bit challenging to me as I am just not used to some of it such as fruit and salt but would love to have a go.

  2. this looks like a foodie's delight lisa. yum to fresh coconut juice! looks like you had a fab holiday. cheers sherry



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