Banh Cuon

Banh cuon are delicate little rice crepes filled with minced pork or shrimp & little bits of a very black mushroom. A plate of these little delights is then topped with a pile of crunchy fried shallots & coriander. Pick them up with your chopsticks, dip in mild salty-sour dipping sauce . . . a perfect light lunch on a hot day. A plate full & a drink will set you back two or three US dollars. Is this paradise? Yes, I think so.

House of Nem

Blustery Evening

It’s a blustery evening in Hanoi. I’m sitting in a cafe near the cathedral drinking tea and watching the world go by. I’m much looser, less brittle, than on my last trip, who knows why? But I’m definitely living in calmer psychic weather, even as the leathery leaves of the trees along the street whip around and tear loose, swirling through the neon dusk. Trees and lakes and a tragic history: this is a poet’s city.

Walked around the Old Quarter this afternoon, but didn’t take the camera — just wanted to stroll about and stare at things. I did find a market I want to get some pictures of, though, if only to demonstrate to my students the, let us say, catholic range of Vietnamese foodstuffs. Lots of eels and crabs and fish and frogs and all manner of fowl as well and all of them alive in basins, tubs, and cages: this is a cook’s city.