Hanoi Cooking Centre, Part One: To Market!
I must apologise for my disjointed travel posts. I have been trying to weave them in with my at home posts, however I fear this has not been very successful. I do so wish to blend my daily life with my travel adventures (plus a little sprinkling of eating out here and there). I have so many travel tales to tell you! Bear with me as I find my feet in this regard.
And so here we go, back to Vietnam...
We had two full days in Hanoi. One was spent exploring the town at a beautifully leisurely pace, and delighting in our very first bowl of Bun Cha. That day was perfect. I shall tell you about that day in the future.
Our other day in Hoi An was spent at museums....well, that was our intention. Actually at the last minute we found a Trip Advisor review for Hanoi Cooking Centre. And then we saw more reviews - raves, rather. Suddenly our plans changed. Cooking class trumps museums, right?
We signed up for the Vietnamese Street Food class. It was just Ben and I, plus two fellow hungry participants (a friendly couple from California), in the class - lovely and intimate. Bright and early we turned up, excited to learn, cook and eat!
The first part of our class involved a tour of Cho Chau Long Market. That is Ben in the picture below, and not some super keen random person. Although it would have been brilliant if that were the case.
Tracey Lister, the lady behind Hanoi Cooking Centre, was our guide, and what a fabulous wealth of knowledge she is. We soaked up every educated and fascinating word she spoke. Tracey is a revered Australian Chef who now calls Hanoi home. She was the first chef/trainer at KOTO, a charity that provides street kids with vocational training (it's a fantastic organisation).
This was a great local market, no tourists here... besides us! Other tour groups do pass through here also, but luckily on this morning we were the only ones. Tracey took us right around the market, showing us a whole range of exotic foods. It was such a feast for the eyes!
Betel Nut - a mild narcotic that is culturally important, both in the chewing, giving and receiving of the plant. You'll often find old ladies chewing it in South East Asian countries. It's addictive, slightly carcinogenic and can stain your teeth - fascinating!
Meat Market! No dog today though. Tracey informs us that this meat is super super fresh, i.e. just killed this morning - squirmish, yes, but also respect for the freshness of their produce.
Steamed Pigs Blood - I've never tried this...and I don't know if I ever will. Something about steamed blood always freaks me out. I wonder why...oh that's right, because it's freaky! No, no, just kidding - I don't mean any disrespect. It's just something that I have never ever seen before, nor grown up with. I love to try new things, so perhaps I should give this a go...
Insides...outside. All coiled and on display, ready for purchasing.
Banana Flower - another new ingredient to me, it's fantastic thinly sliced in salads.
An array of all sorts of weird and wonderful fishpastes!
Loads of fresh seafood, eels and all. Tracey picked little lost, limp fish up off the ground and popped them back in the water. How sweet of her. We all looked on in amusement/shock. I love this place. Certainly different from our decidedly controlled, tame markets back home.
I'm not sure what this is...any ideas? * edit: many of you had wonderful, ideas, as it were! You have identified this to be pickled bamboo shoots, thank you so much for your help!
After overloading our senses we left the market and headed back to the cooking school. We were bursting to start cooking, the market tour left the four of us positively buzzing and inspired! Next up, Part Two: In the Kitchen...