Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vietnamese family meal

I have a habit...with curiosity to learn what Cambodian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, French or Russian... normally eat at home, what is their routine dish for lunch & dinner?
There was a time that I thought Japanese eat sushi for lunch and dinner at home everyday or my favorite Russian salad (famous Olivier salad) is a part of everyday's family dinner in Russia!
I was wrong!

Same as for Vietnamese - we don't eat, we don't prepare spring rolls for regular meal! We have very common dish for lunch and dinner and by somehow it becomes super popular food that we easily buy from the street stall or order "à la carte" at the fancy treat our guests!
Usually for Vietnamese, at home, we prepare mostly three or four dishes : one soup (or we call canh), one or two savory dishes (món mặn) and veggies - fresh (rau sống), boiled (rau luộc) or stirred (rau xào), together with cooked rice! 

        Sweet sour soup with fish - one of the most favorite dishes at home in Vietnam, esp. in South!  

These days our life is changing, people seems more busy to cook at home, many small eateries appeared in the street, or around office buildings to serve those family dishes... The 60' break for lunch is more than enough for many office people to walk around the workplace, to select those food that we used to eat at home before! Total cost is around 30-40 k Vietnamese Đồng!

           A slice of freshly fried mackerel at a family restaurant! 

Usually at these places we have more choices for savory dishes but only one or two - for soup! To me, a fish lover, I always order some fried or braised fish. My all times favorite is freshly fried mackerel or another one - braised pork meat with duck eggs.

Talking about this pork meat with eggs, I remember when I was 6-7 year old, I has been assigned by my mom to pick up every day prepared dishes from our neighborhood family restaurant, at that time we called "cơm tháng" (literally "monthly meal", it means instead of cooking at home, we can order the restaurant to cook for our family by monthly!) I like braised eggs with pork meat so much, and I keep asking the restaurant's staff to put that in our lunch boxes (cà mên) almost every day.
My mom was surprised why only that dish all the times! Later she called them and knew that because of me! Since that day my duty moved to my older brother!  

              Egg omelet (trứng chiên) either with pork meat or just tomatoes, onion...also my favorite! 

             Boiled water spinach is one of those favorite veggies these days...but before - nope!  

Besides soup, savory dishes...we still have either fresh or stirred veggies. After 1975 the simple boiled water spinach (rau muống luộc) became very popular, but I remember at that time in Sài Gòn, being an innocent boy, I always thought that water spinach was a choice only for low-income families, the rich people never eat! Today water spinach : boiled, stirred with garlic...are among the most ordered dishes in any family eateries or classy restaurant!   
If the concept "cơm tháng" was very popular in 70-80s, the image of a man on Honda motorbike with at least 10 of 3-tier shining lunch boxes, delivering to the house door ...seemed faded away, instead of that, today I saw a guy carrying on his motorbike - dozens of  "3-4 hole military tray" to the office buildings. To me, having lunch from that tray is one of those things that I really don't like! 


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