The unforgettable flavors

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					The unforgettable flavors

“A culture of cuisine perfected over a thousand years”.
The folk song about food that passed from generation to generation about Vietnamese cuisine is
numerous. The folk songs are common to all, printed in textbooks for children, detailing the cooking
practices, spices, and methods of cooking. Most loved is famous Vietnamese fish sauces, these sauces
were created because people preferred to live near the sea and for a vast number of Vietnamese their
livelihood has been dependent on fishing. However, it does not end there, Vietnam is also an agricultural
country where rice fields abound rivers teeming with fresh water shrimps, and farms producing foods
associated with farming livestock. All this has enriched Vietnamese cuisine.

In 1010, King Ly Cong Uan moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long and a new style of cuisine in
the Lower Red river area was born. When Thang Long became the capital of Dai Viet (the former name
of Vietnam), it opened up a new kind of trade with the neighboring countries and regions thereby
changing the life of people and enriching the cuisine. From Tran Ly dynasty, the trading became more
and more developed creating a new and diverse cooking style, adding more flavor to the dishes. The old
style and dishes from the past changed somewhat and the new cuisine of Thang Long City was born.
These changes were not only happening to Thang Long capital but also to many other capitals in the
world, as they grew into big metropolitan areas. People in Thang Long capital began to prepare food in a
different way adding much different kind of herbs and spices never used before.

“Mam” (one kind of salt fish sauce) from the South was brought by Champa sea merchant boats, pepper
was delivered by European naval force, and nutmeg, curry powder and silk came from India, just a few
examples of the spices imported into the Vietnamese diet. People from the Red River Delta produced a
soy sauce made of soy and rice, and it was quickly accepted into the eating habits of the people in the
south of Vietnam. The Northern people also knew how to salt and ferment crab, fish, and shrimp make
sauce. However, only after tasting the salty sweet sauce made in the South were Thang Long inhabitants
truly satisfied. Spicy pepper in the sauce was an unfamiliar taste for the people in feted it, and it has now
become a staple must with all meals.

Adding flavors from the Southern and Northern mountainous areas, such as lemon. Chili, vinegar, garlic,
ginger, and saffron to meals became a normal practice, in the lowland areas people were accustomed to
using., aniseed, cinnamon, cardamom, “hat doi , mac khen” –one kind of local seed imported from
mountainous areas to their meals. All condiments, herbs and spices, were added carefully to enhance
flavor and nutrition. The broth of “pho” – noodle soup of Hanoi people is the combination and mixing of
foods from the lowlands with the foods from highlands, nobody knows exactly how or when this famous
“Pho” dish came about, but it is now a City Icon. When enjoying a tasty bowl of “pho” on Hanoi streets,
nobody seems to care that onion, ginger came from the lowlands, or the star aniseed, cardamom, came
from the mountains, or where the dried cutlet fish, “sa sung” – (sea mollusk used to make the broth) came
from. They just eat and enjoy the most popular dish of Hanoi. Beside “Pho’, there are also other famous
dishes such as “bun thang”, which is made with dried shrimp, shrimp sauce, herb, and belostomatid
essence creating the famous Hanoi flavor.

Trying to find the traditional flavor from the many mobile street vendors is quite difficult, as many of
them have exchanged the traditional ingredients with monosodium glutamate to create a false. However,
in the traditional well-known shops in the ancient quarter, the nature spices are always used. The way to
make these special dishes has been passed down from generation to generation, how to add just the right
amount of prices, and how to combine different Hanoian meal. In the cold season, people eat a sweetened
soup with ginger, perfectly warming the body on a cold winter’s day. In hot season is eaten, often
flavored with some jasmines or grapefruit.

The capital of Vietnam has been developing over a thousand-year period. Visitors are most only attracted
by the landscape and the industrious spirit of the people but also by the abundance and variety of meals
and foods available. All put together with ease and yet sophisticated perfection from years of refinement.
The taste of grapefruit in the sweetened soup or the taste of pepper in the fish sauce, onion and little
garden-balm in the rice soup bowl at late might all contribute to Hanoi capitals unique way of eating.
Indeed an unforgettable experience for all who enjoy and love food.

This article written by Lanh Nguyen from Vietnam Heritage Travel
For original article, please visit:
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