Not Quite Sure What These Are – 46 of 365

Blood Oysters

The grilled mussel type dish the other day at Cô Bảy 3 on Nguyen Huu Canh next to my apartment tower was decent enough to where I would eat there again, and I wandered by once more on one of my walks.  Maybe déjà vu does exist because I found myself staring at all the scary shells in the display case and the same guy came out just like last time and asked if I wanted to eat. I said “no” and then the same young girl herded me over to a table in a carbon copy of my last visit.  Hunger was nowhere near striking, but I  figured they were trying so why not.

I landed a bit too firmly on a tiny stool and within seconds had a great fall as it collapsed backwards  into a plastic pancake.   My right foot dragged the tiny metal table with me and I heard the chopstick and spoon container clatter to the ground.  The girl let out a loud “waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” as she tried to interpret what her eyes were sending to her brain.  Evidently she was in some sort of sensory overload beyond comprehension.  This cheap stool was now dead on arrival and no amount of Superglue was putting it together again.

Some rapid fire chitchat ensued amongst her family as they put the cutlery back into the container, unwashed I might add.  I am sure they were debating if they really need western customers destroying their premises.  Ultimately they offered me a new seat in the form of a not much better tiny foot high chair with arms.   Imagine one of those brown booster chairs at McDonald’s but with eight inch legs and you’ve got it.   I just have to ask, why in the hell do Vietnamese people sit on Barbie furniture anyhow?  Is it so they can pack more people in a small space?   Or is this actually children’s furniture misidentified as the adult stuff and it’s just become accepted practice?  Consider this my public service announcement…street food furniture is not load tested for six foot tall American guys.

My maitre d’ pointed to an item on the menu, and I hoped I wasn’t about to get punked with some inedible choice for breaking the stool.  His recommendation of ốc bông cháy tỏi meant nothing to me, but I figured for $2 no worries if it turned out a dud.    Minutes later a plate of black dotted white shells holding a small amount of tough jellybean size meat arrived.  The shells were super hot from being sautéed in a mix of honey, fried garlic, and the same soft bacony pork rind from last time. These things burned my fingers like little redhot coals as I maneuvered the meat out of them with a two prong fork as tiny as the furniture.  The nuoc cham dipping sauce provides the heat and salt to balance out the honey and garlic’s sweet and bitter.

I finished the meal while tightly wedged into my tiny plastic chair like some parent sitting in his first grader’s chair at a school conference.  Ten minutes in one of these suckers is evidently all it needs to bond with our full figured westerness because it was still attached to my butt as I stood up to leave.   For a split second I didn’t even realize I had a red plastic four leg tail.   At least I didn’t collapse this one.  I tried to admire my handiwork but evidently took too long turning my head around to stare.  Perhaps the girl thought I was going to walk on out of there wearing her chair because she ran up to me and peeled it right off my butt with another loud “waaaaaaaaahhhhhh!”   So I buckled a stool and wore a chair.  What a banner night.  I got to thinking I’d love to see them climb aboard an American barstool and dangle from up there.  Yeah…who’s laughing now!

Some quality internet research revealed ốc bông cháy tỏi means grilled blood oyster with garlic. These things look neither like oysters or blood so take the translation with a grain of salt.   This is more like a big snail shell housing a rubbery resident.   The menu has three other ways to prepare these oysters so I will be back but maybe I’ll bring my own chair.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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