Its time for breakfast.
And we are in the streets of Saigon with a mission: find the little street market we’d liked so much the last time we visited Saigon a couple of years ago. Even with a good sense of direction, in a constantly changing and developing country like Vietnam, finding the past is no easy feat. The cityscape of Saigon has changed. That park across the street used to be nothing but a dirty dusty parking lot, and now there are government buildings. There is a high rise here where there was nothing before.
We manage to find the market (on the corner of Pham Ngu Lao and Cong Quynh) It is nothing like big Ben Thanh Market not that far away. This one is more intimate, more makeshift, and yet they still have pretty good hygiene.
We wander through, absorbing colors, smells, and sounds.
The stalls gush over with fresh produce. Many of the leaves and vegetables I have never seen before. Live fish splash in pots. This is a sign of quality and freshness. If the fish is still alive, you know it is fresh, and the taste is different too. There are a lot of dried fish and shrimp, which are used to make sauces and soup stock.
Finally we get to the food stalls. Just in time too, my stomach is growling, activated by all of the delicious looking things I’ve just seen.
Every stall has their specialty, each one making only one or maybe two things.
We settle for a rice ravioli/crèpe that tastes like it is stuffed with mushrooms and pork with delicate spices and herbs. The lady makes the crèps on the spot, steaming them in a little contraption that looks like The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. They are so thin, almost skin-like as she pulls them off of the Tin Man onto her chopping board and rolls them around over the stuffing.
She dresses the plate with several crèpes on top of which she places a slice of paté, some chopped leaves and herbs and fried scallions. Apparently, the French brought a culture of paté to the Vietnamese, this is more firm, a little like sausage.