A Taste of Vietnam

A few months ago I was fortunate to fulfill at least one of my many dreams and travel to Vietnam.  Last year when Karenne from Travelworld Taree suggested I take a cooking tour, I was just a bit more than interested. I wanted a trip where I could get amongst it, where it would be all about the food and the culture with some relaxation time thrown in. Mostly I wanted to learn to cook like the Vietnamese do. My goal was to take a bunch of foodies on a trip that would teach them to cook a great Vietnamese meal and showcase the food of the region.What I wasn’t aware of was that some of the group didn’t think they would be cooking at all, instead they had planned to relax while their partners cooked. I was thrilled that after the first class in Ha Noi everybody cooked their way through Vietnam with great gusto, 

Eugenie, Adrian, Kath, Robert, Chris, Janet, Donna, Penny, Bill and Zung

We were extremely fortunate that our guide for the 2 weeks was as passionate about this country as we were excited to be there, Zung stayed with us for the entire trip, taking us to some of his more local restaurants and showing us behind the scenes. Zung will be our guide next year and I look forward to meeting with him again.

Our first experience with Vietnam was flying into Ho Chi Min City with fabulous views of the Mekong Delta, amazing snakelike waterways weaving their way around the tapestry of rice paddies and crops. We flew straight to Ha Noi to get some rest before our cooking lesson and tour of the Hom Cho (markets) the next day.  

Our teacher for the day was Miss Mo and she took us to the local markets where we were introduced to a vast array of seafood, meats and exotic fruit, along with many motorbikes tearing through the bustling market place threatening to knock us over. We survived the first of many of these experiences and I grew to enjoy the craziness. Ha Noi is a bustling city but it has a less hassled feel than other Asian cities I have visited. 

Being in the food industry, I was a little unsure of the meat that sat all day on tables without any refrigeration, collecting dust from the road. I secretly hoped that we were not going to be cooking this meat. I had a giggle to myself as I thought of what Josh, the local health inspector would make if it. 

Our first day of cooking was held at Hoa Sua Vocational Training School where economically disadvantaged youth learn to be chefs and hospitality workers. The kitchen where we spent the day was alongside the commercial kitchen and the students were quite interested in what we were doing there. Our menu was to deep fried Vietnamese spring rolls, sweetcorn soup, rice noodles with grilled pork and for dessert we made mung beans in syrup. It was a most enjoyable day and we were all extremely thrilled with our first day of cooking

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