The Differences in Diet Between Vietnam and the United States
There is certainly a difference in culture here, and one of the primary things that has come evident about the differences in life here as opposed to the United States is food. There are stark differences in diet here. The food is always fresh, and contains no preservatives of any kind. It is always prepared when it’s best to do so, and in large enough portions at the center of the table for all to share.
Small bowls of rice are distributed among those at the dinner table, and all other servings are placed on bigger dishes in the middle of the table. Food that is in the center is shared between everyone, rather than everybody taking their own portions. In other words, instead of everybody having their own dish with everything they want on it, you have large dishes in the middle that people share, and are welcome to pick through at anytime. This is a primary difference in foods.
The foods are prepared quite cheaply here as well. In fact, almost every type of meat or produce that you would typically purchase in a store is very cheap here. We had an entire meal yesterday for dinner that cost a total of just $4USD. This was a meal with rice, fresh broccoli, carrots, and meats. Tonight, we ate fried salmon, egg drop soup (with crab meat, because that’s how they properly do it in Vietnam), fresh, wild, shrimp (which were enormous in size by the way), and fruits for desert, which cost roughly the same amount.
It’s also important to note that these meals are feeding six people or more typically. There are Hang, her grandparents, her parents, her brother, and myself, as well as sometimes a neighbor or two. These meals feed many people for a very cheap price compared to in the United States. This is because it is all grown fresh right here near the city, and doesn’t need to be imported, or even transported long distances like in the United States. It’s pretty cool, but it does take some getting used to.
I haven’t ate any street food yet. I’ve been told to stay away from the street food vendors, because sanitation isn’t something that applies to them. These foods are what can give foreigners stomachaches, and I won’t be eating them until I’m told I can probably handle it (which, judging by what Hang tells me, probably means I won’t eat any anyways).
Hang’s father, says he wants me to gain 5kg (about 10lbs) before I go home. When I asked why, he basically said it was so my parents wouldn’t think I was starved, and would know I was well taken care of.
Trust me people… I’m well taken care of here. There is food everywhere, and going hungry simply isn’t going to happen.