We had our third meeting at Nghi’s place. She was preparing us some Vietnamese food. We had fried rice with shrimp, mushroom and vegetables, spring rolls with vegetables and rice noodle inside, and a fish sauce based dipping sauce for the rolls. It was nice to try making the rolls myself. Water was used to make the rice papers soft so that they could be flipped and rolled. In addition to being healthy, the food was really tasty! Nghi was thinking that people in Vietnam eat fairly light meals because of the warm (or hot) climate of the country.
According to Nghi, an everyday Vietnamese meal consists of rice, vegetables and some meat (pork is the most common). I was surprised to hear that people don’t really eat bread in Vietnam and that they don’t drink milk with food, which feels funny considering the milk consumption in my family. Nghi told that people usually have water with food. However, it’s apparently even more common not to have a glass of water, but a small bowl of canh instead. Canh is salty water with vegetable flavor (the vegetables for the meal have been cooked in the water).
Nghi told us that rice is important in Vietnamese cuisine and that there are basically two types of rice used in Vietnam. One is the regular rice, and the other is the sticky rice. In Vietnam, children learn to use chopsticks at an early age, but I was allowed to use a spoon (and fingers) to enjoy my Vietnamese dinner because I’m not that good with chopsticks – at least not yet.
When I asked Phuong what she eats when she wants to give herself a treat, she told me she enjoys fresh or dried fruit, which comes naturally because there is a wide variety of fruits growing in Vietnam. I wish I could adopt that habit and forget that ice cream and candy ever existed!