The flight from Saigon to Hue takes just over an hour, but is just long enough for a cold snack in the business class cabin. The flight attendant spread a gigantic linen pale yellow cloth across my tray table and then moments later breakfast appeared. Thankfully I was not all that hungry.
Two small slices of French bread held two polar opposite compilations of dubious meat. I zeroed in on the piece of raw fish sitting atop lettuce and a mayonnaise based sauce. Now I am skittish enough already when it comes to eating sushi in Vietnam as I have peeked inside the backdoors of kitchens all across this land. Trust me when I say dining out anywhere, sushi or not, is generally not a showcase for the latest advancements in hygienic innovation.
Seat 2A on an Airbus A320 hardly looks like a sushi joint to me. So receiving raw fish on top of that orange colored mayo caused my better judgment to circle the wagons and keep this gastrointestinal intruder at bay. Who knows that that sliver of fish has been subjected to on its journey from the ocean to my seat. The dill added a nice decorative touch but still, no way.
I did eat the processed ham and that familiar saltiness and slick texture was just like any hermetically sealed meat product in Vietnam. What gives there? Every time I buy some at the grocery store it arrives in its airtight package soaked in some suspicious briney liquid. Only a careful rinse with bottled water makes it even halfway edible.
The mango induced some forgotten but horrible memories. In the past I have tried this highly irregular tasted sliced papaya, and unfortunately it reemerged with this meal. How do they even mess up papaya? Better yet, what does this mutant papaya tree from hell look like? The mushy fruit tastes how I would imagine a diaper full of baby squeeze. Yes, it is that vile. Now my tastebuds require some intense 12 step program to heal.
That’s ok though. I reclined my chair and enjoyed the view of green mountains passing below. I dreamed of all the amazing street food down there and what lay ahead in Hue.