Paul Christiansen

in Food Culture

Into the Beguiling Backyard Rice Wine Distilleries of Long An

The highway eases into sand and gravel the way history descends into myth and legend when traveling towards Long An. A mere 27 kilometers outside of Saigon, the province feels a world away: the difference between a cocktail made with 18-year-old scotch, jackfruit-infused rum, seven types of bitters and brandy-soaked organic cherries and a plastic water bottle of homemade rượu nếp. The latter was the reason we were going there: for information, interviews and anecdotes to complete Saigoneer’s two-part investigation of the history of rice wine.

in Snack Attack

From a Blend of Cultures, Phá Lấu Became a Beloved Saigon Street Snack

When the word phá lấu is mentioned, two genres of dishes will appear in the mind of Vietnamese. One is a small bowl of orange broth that sings of coconut milk, another is slices of caramelized offal awash in a translucent shade of brown. Both these forms of preparations speak volumes about the growth of local street food through episodes of history.

in Snack Attack

Gỏi Đu Đủ Reflects the Mekong Region's Culinary and Cultural Wisdoms

As the cicadas begin to sing in the tamarind canopies along Pasteur Street after the first monsoon rain, vivid scenes from my formative years flash by in my mind. My cheeks became flushed and my eyes teary, but not from the harsh sun and wind, nor the frustration of losing multiple marble games; it was the sight, or rather, the scent of a papaya salad enveloped in Cô Ri pungent anchovy sauce.

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: In D5, a Family Durian Xôi Xiêm Recipe Inspired by Cambodia

At first glance, xôi xiêm sầu riêng — or sticky rice with egg custard and durian — may appear plain-looking, but apart from being a tasty sweet treat, this simple dish also holds stories of life during Vietnam’s post-war period.

in Snack Attack

A Pilgrimage to Sơn La, Vietnam's National Mận Capital, as a Devoted Fan

There’s a kind of sweet, sour, and slightly tannic fruit that never fails to make our mouths water every summer.

Paul Christiansen

in Food Culture

Banana Is a Paragon of Neutrality. I Propose Using It as a Metric to Rank All Fruits.

Line up all the world’s fruits, best to worst, taking into account every rateable aspect imaginable including taste, appearance, price, reliability and seasonality — the banana rests at the exact middle. So I've personally used it as the ideal threshold to rank every fruit I've ever eaten.

in Snack Attack

An Ode to Dried Fruit, Vietnam's Parent-Approved Way for Children to Sugar Load

I first knew dried fruit as a category of munchy snacks that had my parents’ approval.

Back Eat & Drink

Brian Letwin

in Food Culture

Can Coffee Save the Vietnamese Economy?

As inefficient state-owned business drag down Vietnam’s economy with bad debt, other sectors must pick up the slack. In times of economic stagnation, the country has one fallback - agriculture.

Brian Letwin

in Food Culture

Vietnam is Turning into a Country of Yogurt Addicts

At the rate yogurt is gaining popularity in Vietnam, it soon may be the preferred currency in the black market. According to VietnamNet, the Vietnamese yogurt market is expected to reach VN...

Brian Letwin

in Food Culture

Phở-Flavored Cocktail Makes Its Debut. Seriously.

Pho is a universally adored dish (yes, even aliens love it), a melody of simple ingredients that yield abundantly complex flavors. Bottom line - it's goddamn delicious. So it's no surprise that people...

Brian Letwin

in Food Culture

For Foreigners, Eating in Vietnam not Always as Easy as it Looks

Vietnam is world renowned for its food, confirmed by the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsey who have dedicated entire TV specials to the country’s culinary soul. And for those of us who live ...

in Food Culture

Bugs & Flowers

On a typical day in Cai Lay District, about 90 KM outside Ho Chi Minh City, farmers toil in the field tending to their rice paddies. But today is special, and like any special day in Vietnam it will e...

Brian Letwin

in Food Culture

Nuoc Mam: Ketchup’s Great-grandfather

Ketchup has an interesting lineage. Nuoc mam, or fish sauce, is a staple condiment in Asia where it has been used for hundreds of years. Its flavor-enhancing characteristics make it akin to ketchup i...