Yes, I know. You tune in every day to read about interesting food such as sun dried squid and wait patiently to see if grilled dog shall ever make an appearance. Sometimes the most mundane of foods create the most entertainment though. Milk tea has made an appearance twice lately due to how bizarre a ritual ordering it has become for me.
Seeing the same drink in Hue for half the price brought a little excitement to my life and I dashed up to the stand to give some a try. Besides, it was 98 degrees out and some ice cold relief is always a pleasure.
I was ready to order my usual passion fruit delight, but the girl was asleep. I called out “em oi” a few times in a futile attempt to awaken her but only to a resounding lack of success. Now of course this scene would cause eyebrows to be raised in America but in Vietnam sleeping on the job is nothing out of the ordinary. People will eke out a few minutes of sleep wherever and whenever possible and somehow miraculously wake up when a customer comes within a ten foot radius.
Milk Tea Girl opened her eyes briefly, gave me an uninterested look and went right back to staring at the insides of her eyelids. I did what any person really wanting a drink would do. I kicked the stand and caused her to jolt up. Asking for passion fruit got the same exact reaction as at Parkson’s in Saigon, a big ole “cannot!!!!!”
I looked right at the passion fruit syrup and even pointed directly at it. She wasn’t going to budge. I reached over the counter and picked up the plastic container with the passion fruit syrup in it, but she was no closer to fulfilling my order. Asking for red plum inexplicably set the wheels into motion in a way passion fruit never can seem to do.
Don’t tell anyone at these drink stands, but I think I prefer plum over passion fruit. I will, however, continue to order passion fruit since for two years being told “cannot!” has been a source of mild entertainment.