Quite by chance, before leaving on our long-awaited trip I caught an episode of the Hairy Bikers where the bearded lads ‘do’ Vietnam.
For any of you who haven’t had the pleasure of watching the Hairy Bikers on TV, Si and Dave are a pair of cooking enthusiasts who travel the world on their motorbikes, making meals by the roadside, or in one particular episode, in the shade of a tree in the middle of Africa. They then feed their new local pals the Hairy Biker version of local cuisine. This really is a cookery show with a difference.
See below for the Vietnam episode’s summary, which I cheekily lifted from their website:
Saigon’s a foodie paradise, but two-wheeled chaos rules… Going with the traffic flow, Si & Dave cook shrimp & pork on sugar cane in the middle of a frenzied ferry landing, then chow down on Vietnam War fare: deep-fried scorpions, coconut worms, and a part of a goat that wouldn’t make it onto most menus. Biking on up the coast, they discover the delicious national dish pho, and crispy Hué pancakes cooked in the street below the mysterious Cham towers. But by the time they reach Hoi An, we’re down to one Hairy Biker; Si has broken his foot, which leaves Dave pedaling a very large Geordie around in a rickshaw. How’re they going to get to Hanoi, now that Si can’t ride his motorbike?
Si’s broken foot forces our Hairy Bikers onto the world’s slowest train, crawling towards Hanoi (luckily there’s scorched dried squid for snacks). In Hué, Dave manages to pedal Si’s rickshaw to the Emperors Palace, to cook Paddy-Field Pork, Spring Rolls and Sticky Rice in a monsoon. Then it’s on to Hanoi and the delights of a motorized handicapped cart, ferrying the boys between two extremes of Vietnamese cuisine: French super-chef Didier’s mouth-watering buffet, and a local bar’s own street-food surprise (Si thinks it’s duck, Dave thinks it’s suckling pig. Both are wrong). Their final destination is the stunning Ha Long Bay, to grill Cha Ca fish and make Crab and Fish Noodle Soup on a junk. With two beautiful Vietnamese twins serenading them with harp music, our weary adventurers experience heaven at last…
I saw the second part, with Si-the-invalid being pedalled around in a rickshaw by patient Dave. What better way to deal with a broken foot and being unable to jump on a motorbike? The boys visited a street café to try the local Hanoi delicacies, but what was that platter of unidentifiable meat? Dog. That’s right, the boys were served steaming pieces of dog. Blurgh. I immediately lost my appetite for anything that once had legs.
Dave being, as ever, a good sport and not wanting to offend the sweet-faced waiter, chomped on a bit of deceased woof-woof and pronounced the taste a cross between duck and pork. However, Si’s face said it all. That was one dish they would not be finishing.
I have to thank you for that information, Dave, as it has removed any need to eat dog in order to know what it tastes like. You may rest assured that on our trip to Vietnam I will be avoiding meals that consist of anything that may once had raised its leg by a tree or been called ‘Fido’.