Looks Like A Pile Of. . . – 45 of 365

Like a Litter Box

I think I strained Café 91’s lunchtime infrastructure by arriving just a tad bit too early since the day’s full selection had yet to fill the metal serving cart at this lunch joint next to my apartment on Nguyen Huu Canh.  Slim pickings at 11am helped me settle on tiny round fish in a brown sauce over the pig ear looking thing with pineapple.  These sausage looking fish bodies got my vote since anything served up without the head, tail and slimy stuff in between has enough curb appeal for me to choose it over an inedible pork looking product.

The odor wafting from the bag as I rode the elevator home fired the first warning shot as to how lunch would fare.  An even stronger blast of fish fumes surrounded me as I opened the box and tried to imagine this stuff at one time living in the ocean.  Lunch looked like pieces of cat turd with the styrofoam container and rice their litter box.  I just couldn’t get past how these brown logs were piled on top of each other like a heap of cat squeeze.   The Vietnamese are lucky that cats as house pets aren’t really a concept.  This way they have never seen a litterbox to know this fish looks like the cat’s deposit.  I guess we could be classier and say it looks like oversized Tootsie Rolls.   Actually no.  I like Tootsie Rolls.  Let’s not defame a candy like that.  Cat squeeze.  Final answer.

Strange Fish

I looked at my takeaway box resting on top of the coffee table and told myself I think I can, I think I can.  Peeling some of the skin away with my fork revealed how unbelievably bony this fish is.  As I mentioned before I am all about texture and appearance, and this fish, if that’s what it really is, wasn’t winning me over.  Try as I might I could only rescue about four small forkfuls of meat from the skeleton and about double that amount remained behind in my petri dish.  With the wet outer layer and bones dissected away, the remaining sweet tuna like meat flavored with some salt, spice, and a faint sweet/sour was decent enough.

I emailed Anthony a picture of the litter box and he responded with “I think it’s cá kèo chiên xả ớt (fried with lemongrass and chilli).”   Running this through Google translator gave a literal meaning of “keo fish fry peppers discharge.”  Yes, translation wizard got one thing right, it does look like an animal discharged something right on top of my rice.  I don’t think I can eat another Tootsie Roll ever again.   Anthony also asked “Do you enjoy it?”  Actually, yes and no.  I sort of enjoy eating cá kèo chiên xả ớt after all, though still with a little trepidation.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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