By: Michelle Nguyen- Vietnam Director
In my previous blog we looked at how the Vietnamese see food as being able to heal. Now we’ll move on to take, quite literally, a culinary tour of Vietnam looking at various weird and wonderful regional specialties. While talking about these special regional foods, I’ll also mention a few foods that are only eaten at certain times of the year.
Bugs, grubs, crickets and scorpions: From the coconut worm to the bee larvae. Often people start to catch scorpions in the spring and summer. They are most popular in the Tinh Bien & Tri On, An Giang Provinces.
Suckling Pig (Sua Heo): Presented whole, this is offered at temples, pagodas and shrines or at special celebrations and is most commonly eaten with small sweetened bread rolls.
Turtle (Thit Ba Ba): A fleshy red meat with quite a strong flavour. This is found throughout Vietnam but more commonly eaten in the southern provinces.
Cat (Thit Meo): Is a special food in Thai Binh Province (the North of Viet Nam). It is said that if you eat cat meat you avoid bad luck. It is also believed to treat impotence, dizziness and tuberculosis. I guess I have just had one too many cats as pets and so for me this is a no-go.
Dog (Thit Cho): People eat dog meat and drink beer/ wine when they gather together with their friends. However, under the view of everyone, especially people working, eating dog meat is considered to be “bad luck” so it is only eaten at the end of the month, from about 22 lunar onwards to avoid “black destiny”. In my early years in Vietnam I used to teach primary children and the “food” lesson was always an interesting one, as there would always be a few children who would raise their hands to tell me this was their favourite food. I just had to put my culture aside and accept the one I was living in. My little animal friend will always be safe from me though!