Braised Eggplant and Pork Ribs – 282 of 365

Eggplant and Pork Ribs

All I really wanted was a small serving of eggplant at Café 91, but the lady serving lunch is evidently far from a vegetarian.  She kept motioning to all the meat selections while telling me something I couldn’t understand.  Well, I take that back.  Her words made little sense to me, but her attempt to upsell and supersize is universal.  Instead of “Do you want fries with that?” I think this was “You must order meat with that.”

So I just did what they always say to do when what someone is saying is beyond comprehension. I enthusiastically said “yes” over and over again, and next thing I knew I was the proud owner of some small pork ribs as well.  She gave me what she thought I’d like, and she was correct in her choosing.

Why I like this eggplant so much I cannot explain.  It is a mushy mess; smacks of fish sauce; and were it in America; I’d probably not touch it with a ten foot pole.  But since this is Saigon, my nine inch chopsticks can’t seem to get enough of it.  Even the way it looks would put most turn most sane eaters away for it’s like a mound of baby food.

I asked four people what this oily mass with chives is called, and their responses were everything from, “yes!” to “very delicious.”  Actually, this seems to happen quite often when I inquire into a particular food.  People eat it, but just have no idea the name, especially with herbs and vegetables.  I don’t know about you, but I generally like to know what I shovel into my body.  Heck, I could even identify this is Chinese eggplant of some sort, just not its official Vietnamese moniker.  Maybe this is a difference in our cultures I have unwittingly stumbled upon.  In the west we like everything identified and categorized by name.  Perhaps over here things are just categorized by taste and look.

In any case, all I want is the Vietnamese name so I turned to the internet.  I found plenty of English language descriptions but without any clues leading me to their Vietnamese counterparts.  That’s ok though.  I know this dish by sight, taste and smell and can recognize it anywhere.   What’s in a name anyhow?  This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes no matter what we call it.  And by the way, the tiny sweet-spicy ribs were pretty decent, too.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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