I am still mentally digesting last week’s grilled cricket dinner. That maiden voyage into Vietnam’s food underbelly at first violated my western sensibilities but ended quite alright actually. But still…eating those very same crunchy bugs we normally swat, spray, step on or poison into oblivion is an unnerving proposition for sure. While pushing away from the insect table, my friends and I decided to reconvene again for another installment of “Monday Madness” to sample more culinary delights off the normal food trail.
Here we are a week later and Thuy, Evelyne, Jane, Kevin and I regrouped for round two to take a crack at another at side of Vietnamese eating. This is definitely not some sanitized Disney World version served up to the tourist masses. Our Vietnamese magic kingdom at 2B Su Thien Chieu Street deep in District 3 dishes up some full on in your face down your throat scariness. Yes, my friends egged me on to try the hột vịt lộn, or fertile duck egg and the challenge was on.
The image in your head right now of this trainwreck to come is most likely correct. As I waited for two beersful of liquid courage to kick in, Jane mentioned that the best fertile eggs are between 17 and 19 days old. Does mama duck squirt out eggs with a time and date stamp or something? How would one even know? Evidently if they are 16 days or younger, it’s like a regular egg inside, and anything over 20 is feathered beyond proper consumption. I prayed mine was miraculously plucked from the nest at the height of its sweet spot. Come on lucky day 18!
So how does one eat this mess? Simply crack open the top as with any garden variety hard boiled egg and drop in a pinch of salt and pepper to enhance the liquid. Slurp down this watery appertif, wonder aloud what the hell you are doing, and then peel back even more shell to reveal the actual hard boiled baby duck. The yolk tastes normal enough and the tiny metal spoon slices right through meat the consistency of a hot dog. A friend of mine told me the head is a delicacy both “very delicious” and “good for health.” What isn’t good for health over here come to think of it according to all the locals?
All I could do was pray this meal wouldn’t destroy my stomach health with a culinary version of the big bang theory. Please food buddha or whichever deity blesses our bounty over here…I just ask that whoever you are that you swoop down with divine intervention to keep this baby duck from flying back out of me.
With crickets and fertile duck now behind us, we have laid plans for Monday Madness Part III. Stay tuned to see what else we can hatch.