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Vietnam: What’s For Dinner?

April 19, 2009
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dinner

Looking for dinner, we took a taxi, carrying our sugar cane juice in a bag, and went to a nearby neighborhood and its large Buddhist center, with a temple, a large school for various ages, elaborate gardens and ornamental pools, extensive  kitchen and communal dinning room, and a residence. It has the feel of sanctuary about it, even in the midst of a thriving, throbbing commercial district.  When you think about it, amidst the everyday lives of worshipers is just the right place for a house of worship and prayer.

It was time for worship, so we listened outside the prayer hall to a bit of the rhythmic chanting of the prayers said and sung by the worshipers seated cross-legged on their prayer mats.  The prayers have a haunting lilt, which I first heard when my father-in-law died, and then heard again a few years later when my father died, and both times my son Dunny arranged very moving Buddhist ceremonies in their memories in temples in Cambridge.

We walked next door to a small family outdoor eatery, one of a long row of shop on both sides of the very busy four lane street with a grass divider, with cars and motorbikes whizzing right along in both directions.  The street form there is like most old cities, with storefronts facing the street, living spaces above, and vehicles out back.

After we sat down at the table in the photo, Dunny inquired in Vietnamese about the menu, ordered for us, and this is what we got, all cooked by the young woman in her pink shirt on the hot griddle top right next to our table.  Some rice paper roll-ups, bean sprouts, greens, fried rice, and a slice or tow of pressed chicken, with a bowl of broth and hot peppers.

And our large cup of sugar cane juice, still not dripping on our hands!

– Dun 

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