Sunday 4 November 2012

Bon appetit

Now, I've just cleared up the kitchen and dining room after an evening hosting a family dinner that took all afternoon to prepare and felt almost like Christmas. It was fun though, and the food - though I says it myself - was very tasty, the creamy potato and apple-layered baked dish that I copied from one I tasted when I was in Portugal being a particular success. I have to admit, though, that it wasn't a patch on the dinners we were served in our up-country homestay in Viet Nam on our World Expeditions Rocky Plateau tour.

It was, however, much more comfortable, sitting on padded chairs at a proper table instead of sprawled awkwardly on the hard floor alongside a table literally nine inches high. Totally unable, in our useless Western way, to either cross our legs for more than five minutes or to squat flat-footed, we propped ourselves up somehow, legs all over the place, feet poking up in inconvenient places. It's testament to the deliciousness of the food that the discomfort mattered not at all, as we eagerly worked our way through the usual assortment of plates of pork and beef and rice and crispy vegetables and rice: so hot and fresh and yummy, healthy and filling and tasty. In this photo it looks a bit sparse, but it was honestly a feast, after a day spent hiking up and down hills and grappling with slippery steep paths through the rice paddies.

My kitchen's fitted out with a fancy oven and microwave and fridge and dishwasher and hot running water and double sink and so on. Theirs had a double gas burner, a stack of enamel bowls on the floor, a tap, and very little else. It's kind of embarrassing, how much better their food was than mine. All I've got going in my favour is the pork crackling - which was magnificent tonight, believe me.

These are Isaac Davison's photos, by the way: thanks for that, Isaac. If I could offer you another half-finished drink, I would.


the queen said...

Well, I had to research pork cracking. I don't even know where I would get a cut of pork here in the U.S. that would have that nice layer of fat still on it.

TravelSkite said...

That's kind of remarkable: not enough fat on US meat? Sorry, but that's not how the rest of us see your typical food. Crackling is actually the skin, made crisp and crunchy by the fat boiling up through the slits. There's a lot of salt involved, too. So unhealthy, but so delicious! Can't believe you don't have it. In England you can buy a manufactured variety in bags in pubs, called Pork Scratchings. Tooth-breaking.

TravelSkite said...

By the way, all that fat keeps the meat fabulously moist during a 6-hour slow roast.


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