Saturday, January 1, 2011

Banh Can

Nellie and I ate at a local favorite along the sewage stream in the recent past. Nellie ordered Banh Can - soft, spongy rice cakes adorned with shrimp and pork.

I opted for comfort food and asked for Mongolian noodles (Mi Xeo Bo). 

While we waited for the sun to continue rising on its invisible axis, we were accosted by the owner of the restaurant. His English was proficient and his brother conveniently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city obviously populated with decent folk. Since he was ruthlessly inquisitive and we had so much in common, we indulged him and shot the proverbial shit. Centered along the wall, he even had an autographed and ornately framed photo of an unknown Vietnamese dignitary and George W. Bush exchanging pleasantries. What a delight to eat lunch under the shit-eating grin of our finest Commander-in-Chief. Finally our meals came and the proprietor scurried away. A memorable spread arrived and took its rightful place at the table. There were three sauces (spicy peanut, bitter passion-fruit, and fishy fish) along a vast pile of adult lettuce leaves and strips of unripe mango and seemingly ripe cucumbers.

I then ate my order and the majority of Nellie's as well. During the experience I learned how to enjoy Banh Can responsibly: after softly placing the rice cake in a verdant bed of lettuce, throw the sauce of your choice at it until it begins to stream tears. Carefully and silently, pick up the shards of unripe mango and lay them gently on the cake. At this point, the rice cake should be appeased by the pleasant citrus aroma and stop weeping, but if it remains wet and pitiful, quickly fold it into the leaves and consume it.

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