Thịt Heo Xào Cà-Ri Curry Pork – 218 of 365

Thịt Heo Xào Cà-Ri

Forgive me food gods for I have sinned.  I have arrived in one of Vietnam’s most important culinary capitals and my first meal came straight out of a food court on the 4th floor of the Big C supercenter.  Picture a Vietnamese version of a vertical WalMart that rises up rather than out.

When I asked the hotel’s concierge for a street food recommendation, Mr. Do looked at me like I had dropped down from Mars.  He said, “Maybe hotel restaurant better for you.”  I politely asked again for street food and I could see the wheels in his head spinning out of control with no traction.  So finally I asked where he would eat, and he said I shouldn’t eat at a street food shop because it doesn’t look nice for western people.   That is exactly what I want!

We settled on a shop for Bun Bo Hue only blocks away but Mr. Do suggested I take a taxi due to the intense noontime heat.  I smugly laughed to myself that I can handle walking.  The moment I stepped outdoors I capitulated to the convection oven engulfing me and decided maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.  The Big C right next door is about as far as I got and the escalators sucked me right upstairs to the air conditioned food court in theory much like anything we would see in the US.

I settled on a curry stand where the young girl tried to be helpful in deciphering the English language translations in case I did not understand my native tongue. Yellow, green, and red were the three choices of sauce and she carefully pointed to each while repeating over and over and over, “spicer.  Spicer spicer.  Spicer spicer spicer” to describe the escalating intensities of flavor going from yellow to red.

After three reiterations of the spice scale, I ordered red curry pork minus the rice and handed her a 50,000 for a 30,000 meal.  She failed to hand back my change after telling me that “spicer spicer spicer” is not good for my health.  I pointed to the drawer and from what I was able to gather a meal with rice is 35,000 but one without is 50,000.  And why would she take five minutes explaining spicer spicer spicer if she wasn’t going to let me have it anyhow?  Yes, only in Vietnam does this make logical sense.

OK, no worries then.  You win spice girl.  Just give me the rice and red curry pork and give me my change.  When I then asked for the rice she nervously giggled and said, “Cannot. Big pork.”  She then placed a rice cup on the plate and said, “35.”  She took the cup off and said, “50” while waiving her hand over the plate.  All I can figure out is maybe that the rice cup takes up room on the plate so they serve a smaller portion of pork.  No rice means more plate is exposed so they charge more for a bigger serving.  It’s Vietnam.  It’s not supposed to make sense.

When the plate arrived it was a full on yellow curry and she said, “spicer” while waiving her hand over it.  Where is my spicer, spicer, spicer?  Give me my damn spicer, spicer, spicer.   I asked for red in Vietnamese to which she replied, “ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. No.”  I gave up and just capitulated right there.  In the end though the yellow curry was good and rivaled stuff that is 8 times as much money in the US.  The sweet of the coconut milk contrasted so nicely with the heat of the peppers.  The soft pork absorbed the flavors so nicely.

The girl watched me skip over the rice, and I could see the wheels spinning in her head.  Why in the world would someone order rice only to push it away?   I guess sometimes you have to order what you don’t want to save money on what you do want even if it comes in the wrong flavor.  Only in Vietnam.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

One Comment on “Thịt Heo Xào Cà-Ri Curry Pork – 218 of 365”

  1. July 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on A Love For Vietnam and commented:
    Thank you posting…

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