Food & Drink
Ninety percent of the Vietnamese population is Buddhist. Historically, religion has been influenced by the neighbouring country, China. It is not strict Buddhism but a mixture of Taoism and Confucianism.
With the family as the cornerstone of society, the parental house is a logical and popular eating place. The kitchen occupies an important position in the home. With the kitchen god Tao Quan as protector and trusted friend of the household, each day some 100 million Vietnamese enjoy an especially healthful and well-balanced food culture, consisting of delicious smelling rice, sparkling fresh vegetables, spices, herbs, fish, meat or tofu.
A refrigerator id now standard kitchen equipment but it is not essential. Freshness is so central in the Vietnamese cuisine that you can get along quite well without one. Sometimes the woman of the house goes to the market twice a day. Vegetables and herbs come directly from the market or from the street vendor and are immediately washed, chopped, processed and transformed into delicious preparations. Department stores have just begun to make an appearance and are seldom visited by the average Vietnamese family. At the market, you find the real Vietnam: hard-working people who like to talk and gossip, laugh, negotiate and sell, each in his own way.
Serving as pantry and supplier for many households, restaurants and street food vendors play an important role in daily life. Along with the community house and the temple, a market is also a place with a strong social character. There one stays informed about the latest news. In addition, one also encounters a lively café culture in Vietnam, which contributes to a great feeling of solidarity. This community spirit is characteristic of the Vietnamese population. Many people address each other as brother, sister, uncle or aunt. Not only in the warmth of the domestic kitchen, but also on the street, millions of people enjoy dishes daily that were prepared on the street. Even before the sun is up, cooking is being done near the markets, in hidden little alleyways and on pavements. These, often improvised, eating places are a part of the Vietnamese culture and identity. Each day an army of street-food vendors moves into the streets to provide each neighbourhood or district with traditional dishes. Whether it is a cup of hot noodle soup or a crispy fried bread roll with påté, street food is an indispensable part of Vietnamese life and gastronomy.