During my first days in Ho Chi Minh City I wandered around its streets on foot, as I was too afraid to join the motorbike madness. It surprised me how many of these streets were a smorgasbord of food; I had never been in a place where there was an opportunity to eat in every single corner and alley.
Getting lost, I would end up in narrow streets that would lead me to local markets, and through them I discovered and explored the roots of Vietnamese cuisine. How could one country gather so many traditions and draw such an extended map of flavours? Markets play a crucial role in Vietnamese gastronomy, with all their endless varieties of produce and beautiful colours, not to mention the vendors who add an extra layer of depth to an already rich tapestry.
I have often described myself as food-obsessed, and Vietnam has cemented this facet of my personality. Gastronomically speaking, it opened some horizons that I hadn’t yet crossed.
I feel that maintaining the marketplace culture will be key if we wish to preserve the rich and vibrant traditions of Vietnamese cuisine, especially during this era of burgeoning 21st century consumerism that is already beginning to change the local scene.