Suon Ram Củ Cải Ribs and Beets – 188 of 365

Suon Ram Củ Cải

An unexpected meal is the best kind of all.   The weather over southern Vietnam has been stormy as of late, and some unusually angry air has simmered over mountainous Dalat in the central highlands.  Low clouds kept us from landing and forced our return to Saigon.  Hunger struck and lunchtime was calling our names during this unplanned detour.

The “canteen” is where street food spawns in the airport’s depths.  The surrounding area is a graveyard of dead baggage carts and ramp equipment decomposing in their final rusty repose.  A concrete bunker whose bright fluorescent lights cast an unhealthy glow on walls that have seen better days serves up cheap meals to airport workers ranging from security guards to cleaning staff.  The few times I have gone forth into this subworld I couldn’t help but think flight crews probably do not wander in quite so often.   People definitely stop what they are doing to look up and gawk.

Airport Canteen

I ordered ribs with yellow crescent shaped things and asked our purser what this creation nestled in the styrofoam box was.  Without missing a beat she declared, “pork and potatoes.”  Back on the plane biting into one of the supposed potatoes washed a sourness over my tongue causing me to ask myself what the [rhymes with duck].  And with this a grapelike texture one would believe either Vietnam has some truly weird potatoes or this is something exotic.  I showed it to the purser once again and asked if Vietnamese potatoes are shiny with opaque vein like lines.

The ribs channeled American pot roast, especially with the sweet tomato like sauce.  But somehow I doubt the hints of fish sauce I detected are simmering away inside a crockpot in Iowa.  The mystery vegetable turned out to be a white beet.   At least we think it is a white beet.  I have never seen a white beet so I can’t confirm the veracity of the purser’s new claims.  In any case, I enjoyed this newfound discovery of good old fashioned suon ram củ cải or ribs and beets.  We can thank some bad weather in Dalat for delivering a new meal in Saigon to the table, or in this case a tray table inside an aircraft during an unscheduled stop.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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