In April, when we were discussing the content of our cover story, it became clear that one member of our editorial team wasn’t too enthusiastic about Vietnamese food. And yet our cover story, These are a Few of our Favourite Things, was all about our favourite Vietnamese dishes. So, we said to the poor haunted soul, write about it. Why not? Tell us why.
What followed was the piece, Vietnamese Food Isn’t That Great (page 88, May 2015). It was run as a counterpoint to all our gushing ravings about the food in this country. In context, it made sense. It provided balance.
Yet when it appeared online, without all the food porn preceding it, the article was misinterpreted as…well, a lot of things.
In the first sentence, “your correspondent” asked you, the reader, to “lower your pitchforks”. The opposite happened. Pitchforks were raised, Salem-like witch stakes were driven into the ground, and the nooses came out. Both the article and the writer got a public hanging. There were even a few death threats.
Here’s what you said*.
— Your correspondent needs to quit with the 1940’s mode of self-address and start talking in the first person.
— The narrative style is as douchy as the content. Bravo.
— Let just say your article is so uncreditable. After reading this, I realized you were advertising for those international restaurants mentioned above, it seemed fine but you shouldn’t have said about Vietnamese food in a rude way like that.
— If the only form of Vietnamese cuisine you have tasted is chao ga, bo kho, com tam and fish sauce, I suggest you refrain from insulting an entire culture based on your limited knowledge and experience.
— Wow! So much for freedom of speech. Say what you think, back it up with evidence, and how do people respond? They throw insults. This is food. Not religion or politics. It’s food.
— You try too hard to have an edgy opinion over something you barely understand. A dumb article.
From Private Posters’ Timelines
— Wondering if the author even knows what he’s talking about or this is just a ridiculous trick to get attention for the clumsy ads at the end of his article. If that’s the case, he got ours.
— Such a fool writing this article. Worth reading to see how narrow-minded people are
— There’s a guy who comments saying “so much for freedom of speech. Express your opinion and get slammed. It’s just food.” No. This guy is insulting the very heart of a culture. Multiple cultures.
From Expats in Ho Chi Minh City
— I’m having trouble wrapping my head around how this article made it to the press, Word Vietnam. It serves no other purpose than being an online troll that’s disguised as being sapient, from a writer whose profile highlights the fact that he’s just a contrarian and takes the loyal opposition for no other reason than to do it. I guess my main gripe with it, really, is: what was the point? Respect the culture and culinary contributions from the country you choose to make your home and meal ticket.
— This was pretty difficult to read, so trite, repetitive, predictable. I know this kind of journalism — unexpected from Word. I know people there I respect a lot. This is melon. Or lime? What do you call that fruit?
— Its no big deal guys, it’s one person’s opinion which is not at all representative... Seriously, more delicious food for us all.
— I think this was a great article. Funny, while not being derogatory. Also, the person managing the Facebook account is replying to comments with lighthearted wit. This makes them a great administrator!
— The title is a bit clickbait-y but the author does have a bit of a point... Although he fumbles it by mistaking Saigonese food for Vietnamese food in general… Hope the Word can scrape together some change and send the author around Vietnam on a little culinary trip.
* The identity of the commenters has been omitted to protect their anonymity.