Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Chicken tonight

I’m aware that most of my blogs mention food in some shape or form. As my life tends to revolve around food when I am at home, why should it change while I am in Vietnam?

The International Women’s Day celebrations continued this week as Mr Dung took all the female employees, some of his family members and me out for dinner. I was asked before hand whether I liked chicken, I enthusiastically said yes.

The meal started with fried chicken wings and drumsticks. These I could do. This was then followed by noodles, vegetables and chicken organs. Then the main course arrived, broth with all the other bits of left over chicken, including the feet. This traditional Vietnamese dish is called lou (sounds like loud but without the d). We were literally going to be eating the whole chicken, which was a lot more than I had anticipated. So there I was armed with my chopsticks and beer wondering what I was going to do. Broth can be a tricky thing as the liquid covers many of the things which are hidden in the depths of the bowl. Once you have selected your target you are committed. It’s rude to pick and chose, your decision is final, so it better be a good one. My new friends were keen to show me how to eat this meal as they were adding green veg and noodles to the broth as we ate, and continually scooping it into my bowl. My strategy changed at this point, I decided I was going to do the cooking, this way I could cunningly scout around in the broth looking for the pieces of chicken I wanted. It was actually very tasty once you got over the image of chicken feet bobbing around in the pot! (This is a flashback to one of my childhood memories which only my family will appreciate).

There were two interesting things which I observed, as we all crammed into the car for the trip to the restaurant. Firstly, I was given the prestigious passenger seat in the front next to Mr Dung. Secondly, back seat driving crosses the cultural divide. This I observed, as tutting noises could be heard from Mr Dung's wife in the back seat, every time he swerved to avoid a scooter.

Today we also visited the SOS Children’s Village in Hai Phong. This is a charity funded community and school, set up to provide a “family” to orphaned children. After the initial introductions we were shown around their beautiful site and its facilities. We also met some of the “mothers” and children, and Debbie, a professional clown as well as a Senior HR Partner at IBM, spent some of her time dazzling them with her balloon animals. We have agreed to produce a proposal of what we can provide and organise during our stay in Vietnam, and plan to make a return visit over the next week. So I’ll keep you posted…We spent most of our visit to the orphanage introducing ourselves, so with that in mind my words of the day are…. What is your name? Which when speaking to children sounds like em ten laa (tone going down) zee (tone going down)? The response to this is toy ten laa (tone going down) Joanna.

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