Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Vietnamese Moon Festival, aka, Lots of Vegetables

Today, Vietnam celebrated one of its many "moon festivals." Apparently there's one every few months, but this particular one is SUPER important. I'm ashamed to say that I still haven't figured out why, but I do know one thing for sure: LOTS of food is involved.

So I'm likin' it.

I headed to the house of a friend of An's for festivities, but was surprised to find that I was blocked off upon entry: about twenty or so Vietnamese women, mostly middle-aged, were all sitting on those child-sized stools that are so common in Vietnamese restaurants, all facing the interior of the house, praying to a statue of...Mary?

I thought that this holiday was somehow Buddhist-related, not Christian?! There you go again, Vietnam...always proving me wrong when I thought I had you down pat.

Anyway, once these ladies had finished confessing their sins to Mary/Buddha and dispersed, the group of us waiting outside trudged indoors, to be greeted by that most happy and delightful sight: a kitchen table covered in sustenance.

I really love you, Vietnam, for always keeping my belly full, even if you can't keep away all the bugs.

Calamari, pork, mango salad, barbeque chicken, crab meat & corn soup, pineapple, fried tofu and an assortment of other vegetables (some whose names are escaping me now) completely turned my mood around today. Everything was wonderful, and so were all the people. There might be a language barrier there, but thankfully a smile is universally understood in every jargon. And the Vietnamese people never stop putting stuff in your bowl, even if you've already told them ten times that you're full to capacity...

Oh, and one more thing. As any avid pub-go'er could tell you, saying "Cheers!" and merrily clinking your pint glasses together is an all-too-common custom in bars before the first sip is taken...

But in Vietnam, they do this before the first sip...and about five minutes after that again...and will continue to do so, for the rest of the meal. I didn't get it at first, but supposedly, it shows a sign of respect. And you'll look quite rude if you don't follow protocol.

So, new routine: Crack open a Tiger beer. Pour it into my plastic glass, as it sloshes over the sides of the giant ice cube that I'm always required to have while drinking. Lift my glass with those around me, scream "MO-HIGH-BAH-YOOOOOO!", which is the phonetic translation of "1,2,3,cheers!" and repeat this phrase, every five minutes or so, for the rest of dinner.

TIV, man.

This is Vietnam.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you are exercising to keep your trim figure with all the eating and drinking over there. Do they have any celebrations where they fast?