Being Serious About My Food

Ho Chi Minh City, September 27 2009

VN211 which was actually scheduled on 7:30 AM to depart from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, was delayed to an hour. For this matter, I didn’t pray at all. I prayed hard for Air Asia which is notorious for its retime habit, but trusted Vietnam Airlines all and all – and only.

It wasn’t even 6 o’clock yet at that time in Noi Bai Domestic Airport. The only restaurant already opened was the one on the 3rd floor. So, I ordered for Pho Bo, mainly because it was the cheapest menu, but secondly I felt a strong compulsory over me. Well, I’m not the kind of person who is ruled by mainstream, no matter what. I don’t care if a certain place is the mainstream tourist attraction. If it doesn’t attract me, meaning, if it doesn’t fit my interest, I won’t go. Worse is the case for food. I’m not the kind who will go half round the world for a specific food that is the mainstream tourist dish. Therefore, I won’t look for Pho Bo just to satisfy the mainstream world. My best ever favorite food is European food. Pho Bo will never count.

However, on this particular flight delay event, where I have no choice (the cafes weren’t open yet), let me join the mainstream and taste Pho Bo for 20,000 dongs. It’s not bad at all. It’s just something that doesn’t fit into my category of delicious. Although I’m born by parents who are very proud of their Chinese blood, I never like the oriental smell. I guess Mom and Dad told me too many Western bedtime stories. Hence, I grew up with Enid Blyton and Alfred Hitchcock who never mention Pho Bo in their books, but ginger cookies, lemonade, honey, French bread…so yummy!

Surely enough when I returned to Indonesia, I was asked, “Have you tried Pho Bo?”

On the contrary, when I showed the photo of a building where we ate Kentucky Fried Chicken, I was asked a different question. “KFC?? Why KFC??”

“Why not? That’s mainstream junk food, isn’t it? Every body eats KFC just like everybody eats Pho Bo.”

On the plane I choose noodle and beef for my breakfast, but wrapped the lunch box with Viet Nam News when the stewardess was gone. That noodle and beef became my lunch that afternoon. Because I had been smart by saving lunch money, I treated myself with Kem ice cream. Wow! The milk taste was very strong compared to the ice creams in Indonesia. With that, my lunch was complete.

That night I had a feast in Diamond Plaza. Fresco Italian Food. Yayyy!! That’s my kind of heaven. I went through the menu and my eyes bumped into a small photo of potato pizza. Wow! Pizza that consists of potato slices instead of bread? Wow! I never knew such kind of pizza. 80,000 dongs? No problem.

A feast without beverages is no feast. I continued my land cruise on Diamond Plaza Food Land. Yes, food land. That’s how I see it written on top. It is not “Food Court”, but “Food Land”.

Yoghurt? Great! Yoghurt and strawberry, please.

More than I had expected, it was not yoghurt mixed with strawberry juice from one or two strawberries, but really yoghurt with pure strawberry slices.

Second compulsory to Pho Bo I think, is spring rolls. This task I already accomplished on my very first night in Vietnam, Sept 23rd. Compared to Pho Bo, I prefer spring rolls very much more. But… if you ask me what my favorite dish was, here it is:

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