Monday, February 6, 2012

A late Tet lunch

The roads are still packed and overcrowded but obviously the Tet or Chinese Lunar New Year festivities have ended. As we were exploring Laos during this same week, yesterday was our Tet feast.

We were invited by Bac Hoa, the Vietnamese aunt of my boyfriend Manu and his sister Nadia. She's been helping the family for more than 10 years now, and it's a custom every year on Tet to have lunch at her place with her family.
Since Manu's parents left for the US, Bac Hoa has been coming to our house to help. One thing is sure, she is definitely a wonderful cook.
It was my first "Tet lunch". Manu told me not to eat a thing in the morning as lunch is usually largely enormous and over sufficient. So I listened to him, and just had a cup of coffee. By 12pm, as you can imagine I WAS STARVING.

So what was one the menu?

We started with some ruou, which is the local rice wine. This one had a darker color and was sweeter than the one we usually drink. I loved it! With the ruou we had some O mai. This is a healthy and popular snack in Vietnam, specially during the Lunar New Year festivities. It's basically a jam. I think the one she bought was apricot ginger.  At first it has this strong sour taste and when you start chewing it becomes very sweet. An original and tasty treat  for the palate. 

Then we sat on the table, the food was already there. She spent three hours preparing it with the help of her daughter. There was shrimp chips, xoi gac or red sticky rice, nems ran, a quail egg soup, raw beef, I call it the Vietnamese carpaccio, fried fish, boiled chicken of course and the Tet cake the Banh Chung. 

Banh Chung is a square cake, usually wrapped in banana leaves. It is a very rich food for the interior contains a filling of bean paste to which may be added small bits of pork meat. This filling, which is amply seasoned, is pressed between layers of glutinous rice. Its square shape is considered a symbol of the thankfulness of the Vietnamese people for the great abundance of the Earth, which has supplied them with nutritious food throughout the four seasons of the year. It's very rich in taste and texture, which makes it very difficult for me to like it (after 5 attempts).

We spent two hours, eating, drinking, talking, and taking pictures :). Then when we got home I was suppose to work, but, too full to concentrate, I fell asleep in 5 minutes and a half!
Until next year!

Bac Hoa and the ruou

Bon Appetit

Banh Chung Tet

At the end of the meal, plates are still half full

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