Tôm Rang Thịt Ba Shrimp and Pork Belly – 224 of 365

Shrimp and Pork

I am far from a snob when trying new foods in unorthodox places.  The equivalent of a “com binh dan” street food shop stands like a beacon of cheap food right next to the deli counter and dairy case.  I had stopped by Big C to pick up some pens and water and figured why not have a snack.  I stood in front of the glass serving case waiting for the girl to take my order for what seemed like five minutes, and of course I seemed to be the only one not coming any closer to food.  I banged my hand loudly on top of the metal counter and the reverberations caused her to finally point to the cash register.

The convoluted procedure is as follows :  Order and pay with girl #1 at a register, get a receipt, have it stamped by girl #2, hand it to the original food girl we shall call #3, receive it back, hand it back to #1 who then gives it back to #2 who then spears it onto one of those needles that impales stacks of paper.  Then #3 asks for the receipt now resting on the metal spear to verify she did indeed plop the right slop on the plate.  #3 then hands the plate to #1 who hands it to the guardian of receipts #2 who verifies payment had been received.  Finally #2 hands it back to #1 who then offers this 75 cent carnival to the now famished diner.

What a convoluted way to order lunch, but what is even scarier is that I am so used to the bizarre over here that this circus did not even faze me in the least.  Of all the selections, some bright red shrimp mixed with yellow tinted pork seemed least scary.  These shrimp tasted suspiciously close to the barbecued variety done New Orleans style.  Have you ever tried those with their spicy buttery sauce?  Of course in America we would messily peel away the shells and discard this debris deemed highly inedible.  Since my tastes skew towards the west, I stared at these shrimp wondering how in the hell I was going to break into them without causing too much of a mess.  Nowhere around did I see napkins and I really didn’t feel like licking my fingers clean.

Food Area

Clumsily holding one down with a chopstick while scraping the shell away with the sharp edge of a spoon caused an audience to suddenly form.  A few people aimed their camera phones my way, and I am sure Facebook is now the proud recipient of Dumb American pictures.  I wonder if they have a website here devoted to idiot westerners way out of our natural habitat much like we have for that People of Walmart spectacle back home.

A random young guy even swooped his hand down into my food and demonstrated how to pop the entire shrimp into the mouth, shell, legs, poop chute and all.  Aside from yelling at him for stealing my food, I wanted to say yes, I know Sherlock that you are supposed to eat the entire thing.  I just don’t want to ingest the whole thing!  The crowd murmured all sorts of play by play narrations unintelligible to my ears and probably best left that way.  They say if you can’t beat them, join them, so I popped a whole shrimp in my mouth.  Biting into the crunchy shell released a spicy squirt of oil that bathed my tongue in some unexpected but oily deliciousness and more importantly caused everyone to disperse back to their own business.

I never would have thought such a mainstream location for a snack could be such an off the wall experience.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

One Comment on “Tôm Rang Thịt Ba Shrimp and Pork Belly – 224 of 365”

  1. July 26, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Reblogged this on A Love For Vietnam and commented:
    Sounds and looks delicious…

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