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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Of Buffaloes and Vietnamese Rice

Vietnamese rice is delicious. When I go home, I will try and buy Vietnamese rice. I love how the grains are soft and springy when you bite into them and how the grains kind of stick a little together. Rice al dente. A little harder in texture than Japanese rice, not as fluffy as Thai fragrant rice and softer than basmati rice. Vietnamese rice is so good I can eat it on its own with just a dash of nuoc mam.

Or maybe I just am not good at cooking rice.

Here in Vietnam, every street hawker's rice looks so good. At the train station, hawkers were selling rice and hard boiled eggs. I so badly wanted to try because the rice looked so good... but The Husband is squeamish (and rightly so I guess) about street food and I was quickly pulled away.

We learnt about rice growing at Duong Lam, a real rice farming village about 90 minutes drive away from Hanoi. The hotel recommended a guide but this guide was quite good. He wasn't uncouth, like the one here. The working animals are the water buffaloes. Bien, our guide, had fond memories of his family buffalo. He assured us that water buffaloes are very intelligent animals... more intelligent than dogs and positively genius when compared to cows. He said "You can teach a buffalo to act on command. Turn left. Turn right. Stop. If you yell at the cow, it doesn't matter how long you've been training her, she'll run." Buffaloes are given to little boys of 10 or so to look after. Bien remembers panicking at having lost his family buffalo.

Maybe that is why the Vietnamese eat dogs and cats. Buffaloes are smart and strong. If you could petify a buffalo and have it come running to greet you when you get home, why petify a dog or a cat? Bien is quite a good guide. Those who want to get a good idea of farming life in Vietnam can call him at 0921234-4142 or email him at 

Bowl of rice at Hotel Saigon Morin in Hué.

The rice farmer himself.

Rice plant seedlings that spring up out of every patch of soil because when harvesting, rice grains just drop along the paths.

Bien, our guide at Duong Lam Village. He was great. He grew up in a farming family and spoke lovely English. He regaled us with stories of his childhood and knew really interesting details about life in the villages.

Here is Bien explaining the farming calendar for Duong Lam Village for the Year 2012.

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