A Taste of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) / Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh (Sài Gòn)

In south Việt Nam I wandered the early morning streets of Hồ Chí Minh City. I was searching for a rooster but ended up finding breakfast:

…pomelo and mango from the sweet, old woman on the corner. Each was sold with a spice packet carefully tucked into the bag. ~25 cents apiece. Pomelo (spiced or not) has become my favorite fruit. It’s similar to a grapefruit but less bitter – edible the same way as an orange.

I thought the spice packets tasted better with the mango, and actually came to miss the spice when eating the mango solo.

I also had iced pomelo juice at a coffee shop later in the day. Delicious. You start to crave it.

After a long morning at Cu Chi Tunnels I was hot and sweaty and ready for a break.

It was the perfect time to try tapioca root. The root is eaten raw, dunked in crushed peanuts. Chase it with a bit of jasmine or green tea and it’s perfect.

It tasted like a root vegetable, with that texture of a potato or a turnip, but with the flavor of, well, tapioca (albeit mild).

Being served cups of tea on break from our tour of Cu Chi Tunnels

The crushed peanuts really add to the experience, and the tiny cups of tea made us feel like we were really getting an idea of how hard it would be to live solely on roots and nuts and seasonal fruit, especially if we were stuck underground for days, weeks or months.

If the poisonous centipedes or dysentery or tunnel collapses didn’t get us, certainly malnutrition and lack of sunlight might.

But that was not our tour of Viet Nam. We left the tunnels in our air conditioned bus and headed back to the city, where we were greeted at Wrap ‘n Roll Cafe with a long table covered in fresh and fried foods to please all tastes.

Iced drinks were plentiful and we all sat back filled with rice flour and meat, fresh vegetables and free, privileged companionship.

Chatting with fellow writers over a feast at Wrap ‘n Roll in Ho Chi Minh City

I hope you’ve enjoyed this appe-teaser. I’d love to hear about your own travel adventures with food.

Love, Marla

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