Thursday, October 09, 2008

Morning Crossroads

Morning Food Walk:

It's all-too exciting, my morning walk. So many possibilities lie at the crossroads of The Bum Bum Salon...if I go right, I pass the woman who is always skinning fish to find the jello-custard lady. If I go another block straight and then turn right (after getting the pomelo guy to peel one for me), I can find the woman who grills bananas and rice cakes, puts them in a plastic bag and pours tapioca sauce on top.

If I turn left at her corner-where jumbo prawns are still wriggling for their lives-I can find the Rice Lady (this picture is not her...she stands and has much more selection...but these women are all over the city. I still can't bring myself to take many pictures in my alley, my most favorite place). The Rice Lady offers eight kinds of sticky rice, among them: purple, red, white with red beans, white, yellow hominy, and plain yellow. If you choose the white with red bean, she puts it into the same same plastic bag and pours a sweet cream sauce on it. If you choose the hominy, she puts it in a square of newspaper lined with plastic and sprinkles sugar on it. If you choose the white, she puts a green onion sauce, chinese sausage, some kind of meat, a quail egg, shredded dried onion, dried something else (can't figure it out but it's good and crunchy) and some soy sauce. This is also assembled in a newspaper square (pictured). This last is my favorite...wait, no...the white rice with red beans with sweet sauce...wait, um, no, it has to be the long as I have already purchased the grilled banana and rice...

If I make it past her and take another left, I pass the pork lady and her huge chunks of meat and see the rice noodle lady who will cut up a deep fried egg roll and barbecued pork and place these on a bed of rice noodles with a side of fish sauce. Vietnamese people don't seem to differentiate too much between breakfast and all the rest -- it's all same same. They eat just as many carbs in the morning as they do at lunch and dinner. And- I am still committed to my sandwich lady and buy from her whether I need one or not. I may give it to someone at school - everyone agrees they are the best in they city (even my principal, Mark, he loves them and always asks about them). When I pass her, there is always the rice ribbon lady who lays her ribbon noodles in a to-go container, tops them with a deep fried savory doughnut-like thing that she cuts into fourths, tops that with greens, and adds a side of fish sauce.

On Monday morning, Katherine follows me on my journey. She buys all of the above, including a sandwich at the street where I meet Nam (she tells me to do the ordering). That evening, she's all bubbly about her morning buffet. "I'm going to order a sandwich every day," she says, and I don't want to sound too smug, but I tell her "Well, that sandwich kind of evolved over a period of a few weeks so you may want to go with me and we'll make it clear that you want my style of sandwich."

And I can't seem to get through a post without mentioning Nam. Today, again, he hands me a bag and shows me what is in it: green rice layered with custard and topped with sugar. Because he faked me out last time, I'm hesitant; however, he makes the same gesture I have seen more often lately: no, this is for you, from my heart. I eat it when I get to school and it's yummy. When he drops me off this afternoon, he asks if I want it again. What can I say to that but 'yes, thank you!' My driver is now bringing me breakfast.

Go back to oatmeal? I bought some a few weeks ago, but guess is still in a tightly secured container...


Brian Bowker said...

Oh Marjie, you're killing me here! I'm so hungry after reading your post and I still have two hours till lunch... I'm totally craving a bahn mi sandwich now.

Have you considered learning how to ask "where is the best..." and then having Nam take you to his favorite sandwich / rice dish / what ever? I'm so intrigued that he took you to the Deep Fry and Sweet Street - What other wonders might he be able to show you that you haven't already found?

And oh yeah - in your face, Karyn; I'm first this time!

Amyt said...

Marj, this was a great exercise for me. As you know, I have no stomach lining left; I eat potatoes for breakfast and cross my fingers that I may eat again during the day. This "walk" with you was like reading fantasy. I lined up the words, placed them along side images, then drizzled them with the fish sauce of my imagination. Bravo.

The Norris Clan said...

OH my. Where to start. First, after reading this, I need to get out of my rut of only eating white rice. And not just that but white rice with only soy or peanut sauce. How BORING! Your rice dishes sound like a delicacy... oh my goodness. Of course, I don't think I could even come close to replicating what wholesome goodness you are devouring. Boo... someday I will move past my boring rice.

Oh, and I had oatmeal for breakfast. Brian... your day will come!