This journey across Vietnam one bite at a time has mostly led me off the normal food trails. While traveling to Hue by air would seem quite mainstream, the location of this breakfast was anything but for me. I am normally the Air Asia or Ryanair crowd when traveling abroad since how I get there matters little to me. I’d rather spend the money at my destination really enjoying the local experience than spending it on an inflight experience that is a dime a dozen. An airplane ride is an airplane ride.
Very much out of my normal Vietnamese world, I flew business class to Hue and one of the benefits is free lounge access, food and booze at the Saigon airport. Yeah, I know. Technically it’s not free since the ticket costs more. Brown corduroy couches with wooden armrests, tacky light fixtures, very plastic looking plants, gold wall paper and gold plastic wall clocks all combined to look like 1982 is calling.
While picking out my selections from the small buffet, a female worker dressed in the traditional flowing ao dai hovered nearby. Just as I found something halfway appetizing, she ripped out a belch that needed to be heard to be believed. Now I am sure everyone has witnessed the gassy aftermath of someone who has had one beer too many so such high decibel foolishness is nothing new. But seriously, this woman took the concept of orally expelling pressure built up deep within the body’s depths to new heights. Choi oi!
We all hear anecdotal tidbits about how a proper belch in parts of Asia is a compliment to the chef but she was neither eating or a chef. I was seriously impressed with the loudness and quality of her efforts though and smiled her way. She simply patted her chest and released another loud addition to the room that competed with Kindergarten Cop on a nearby TV.
The funny thing is none of the Vietnamese businessmen in the lounge even noticed. Only we westerners seemed the least bit amused. An elderly Australian couple feigned mock outrage. I just chuckled to myself and hoped our friend’s gut would once again erupt with a loud bang.
Luckily my nui xào thịt heo, macaroni and pork, was covered in plastic wrap to protect it from such random gas clouds. The sautéed greens and pork served with average western style rigatoni noodles were about what I would expect at an airport. Mixing together some salt, pepper and lime juice to create a proper dipping sauce made the chewy pork quite palatable.
This meal just goes to show you never know what to expect in Vietnam, even in the most common of places like an airport.