After nine months of living in Vietnam, we were getting ready to head to Thailand (yay!). Before we could, however, we had to get our visas. Luckily Hanoi has a Thai embassy so we had a great excuse to make our way up to Northern Vietnam to spend a few days in the capital city while our Thai visas were getting processed.
We’d heard about the great food culture located in Hanoi and this was something we were eager to investigate. Ryan was particularly interested in trying the cà phê trứng (egg coffee), which is especially unique to this area. He described it as being crazy sweet (no surprises there as ALL drinks in Vietnam are super sweet, even by my standards) and being too thick to drink.
We also tried some xôi xéo which is yellow sticky rice topped with fried shallots, corn mash, turmeric powder, mung bean, and different kids of protein like stewed pork belly, shredded chicken, and/or meat floss. It was an interesting and appetizing mix with a unique texture. (I definitely thought of my mom.)
A less appetizing option (in my humble opinion) was the cơm hến which is a dish made with baby clams and leftover rice served at room temperature. I think I only made it past a couple of bites before handing it over to Ryan. He was a bigger fan than I was and he was happy to help me out. (This is yet another reason I keep him around.)
Luckily there were some safer options as well. We were able to find two of my favorite Vietnamese dishes including bún chả (grilled pork and noodle) and cơm tấm sườn (grilled pork chop with broken rice). As you can see from the descriptions, there was much less going on here, which made me a happy camper.
On our way back from our yummy cơm tấm sườn dinner, we passed some stalls with what appeared to be roasted pigs. On closer inspection, however, we discovered that they definitely had the skulls of dogs. We’d heard of people eating dogs (and rats) throughout different parts of Vietnam, but this was the first time we’d seen any evidence of it. It was a sad scene for me and I got out of there too quickly to take a picture.
After that it was hard to get the image out of my mind and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d accidentally consumed dog meat at some point during our nine month stay in Vietnam. I hoped not, but there was no way of knowing. We passed dogs chained outside stores and restaurants and I feared for their fate. Of course there was nothing I could do about it. I guess sometimes you just have to eat whatever mystery meat you get and hope for the best, doggone it. It’s either that, or become a vegetarian.