45. Cooking in Paradise


A wise person once not so long ago said to us “you must take a cooking class in every place you travel to”, and seeing that we failed to heed this advise while in Seoul we would not let the chance pass us by one more time! So yesterday we spent the afternoon cooking the best meal I’ve had in Vietnam so far.

With impeccable timing we managed to get back to the hostel after a quick walk through town to be picked up by our brilliant cook. First, he took us to the largest market in Hue to get the ingredients needed for this undertaking. There was everything you could ever want at the market(except a damn bikini, like the rest of the country): fresh vegetables, shrimps, Oreos, gold watches and fruit.

This was a big day for me; I tried mango, papaya and dragon fruit all for the first time

Then came the actual cooking. It was only the two of us and the cook at his house, close to the Perfume River, with children cheerfully running around outside the house and peering curiously in through the gate at our chopping away. We prepared the vegetables (and learned a smart cutting technique that I’ll hence forth make sure to use) and the meat – making our own mince meat and all. The class went quick and painless, and the food was absolutely amazing. First there was chicken cooked with lemon grass and rice. Next was a carrot/papaya salad with beef and peanuts eaten with a prawn-cracker. Last was a delicious pork bbq with salad rolled in rice paper with peanut sauce. All in all a fantastic meal. We ate until we were close to bursting and still there was more food left!

Our cook, Anh, asked us out for coffee later that evening and so we ended having a lovely night at an old cafe drinking coffee and fresh juice. He vented about his problems with his landlord, his frustrations with vietnamese monks and told our fortunes with the help of the all-knowing internet.