Taste, Space and Ways to Enjoy Cuisine

Deep-fried figurine, breaded milk crab... very famous in Southwestern restaurants. In addition, there are many cakes (sweet, salty) and savory and vegetarian dishes made this way such as: Fried dumplings, Shrimp puff pastry, Fried spring rolls (fried spring rolls), Crispy chicken thighs, Fried squid crispy, fried basa fish fillet, fried sesame sweet potato, fried banana cake, fried potato, fried breadfruit...

Braised dishes

Braised “is a way of thoroughly cooking salty foods” [88, 502]. This is a way to cook food by simmering over low heat so that the spices can penetrate evenly into the food. When making braised dishes (from animal meats), people marinate the food and keep it for a certain period of time before storing it. But with vegetarian dishes, the spices are mixed with vegetables and soy products (tofu, stretch noodles, vegetarian rolls, tofu ki) and then stored. Braised dishes in Vietnamese cuisine in Vinh Long can be divided into two types: dry braised and water braised.

Dry warehouse: Dry braised is a way to prepare salty dishes in daily family meals and is also a popular dish in Vietnamese eateries and restaurants in Vinh Long. The way to make this dish is quite simple. After placing the marinated food on the stove, when it boils, turn each piece evenly. Then add a little water to the pot and simmer until the food is cooked and absorbed evenly. Dry storage is used to make savory dishes from seafood and meats, such as: braised tong fish with pepper, braised pork rinds, braised pork belly with pepper, braised buffalo meat with lemongrass, braised meat with shrimp paste... For Some types of freshwater fish (sesame, tilapia, giant mullet, mullet, brown mullet) want to be braised until their bones are soft, put them in a pressure cooker and set the corresponding time setting to get the desired dish. There are many types of utensils for storage besides pressure cookers: aluminum pots, stainless steel pots, high heat resistant glass pots, ceramic bowls, pans... but the most suitable is the terracotta pot. In Vinh Long, goby eggs, snakehead fish, perch, braised long tong fish are one of the famous and popular specialties in Vietnamese rice restaurants.

Water storage : is a way to store food where the amount of water and food are processed in harmony with each other. “Unlike dry storage, water storage must have a balance between water and fish (local word, referring to fish or meat). If we want the food to be well-cooked (very soft), people usually use water braising method" [BBPV No. 11]. To make braised water, the initial step is the same as dry braising. Foods are marinated and left for a certain period of time. Then put it on the stove to let the stock boil and the food will release a little

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water, return several times for the seasoning to penetrate. Then add 1 amount of water (fresh coconut water, water) to the surface of the food. Set the heat to medium, until the dish boils, use a ladle to skim the foam several times to keep the water clear and let the heat simmer so that the water and spices absorb evenly and soften the food. From the method of braising water, Vietnamese people of the Southwest and Vinh Long have created delicious dishes such as: Pork braised with duck seeds (braised meat in Chinese), Linh fish braised with sugarcane, Mullet fish braised with eggplant, Buffalo meat braised in coconut water, Pork braised with sour bamboo shoots, Toad fish braised with minced mango... Especially among the dishes braised in water, Braised Pork (Pork braised with eggs) along with braised bitter melon stuffed with meat are indispensable offerings on the tray. Worshiping on the anniversary of the death and the traditional New Year of the Vietnamese people in the Southwest region.

In Vinh Long, before information technology was widely used, in families with a tradition of culinary business, there were secrets in food processing that were closely protected and passed on to the chosen person (the career in the next life). For braised fish, to prevent the fish from being crushed, marinate the fish with sugar and salt before putting it on the stove for about 30 minutes. That way the body of the fish will be firm but not dry” [BBPV no. Or “For boiled animals, use plain water or coconut water, salt, monosodium glutamate or seasoning must be added. Beef and goat broth must have crushed ginger and lemongrass; Chicken, duck, pork must be left intact to keep the pure sweetness. When cooked, take out, let cool, chop or tear into bite-sized pieces. To test the doneness, the Vietnamese use a chopstick to pierce the meat. If you see red juice, then the meat is undercooked. For plants, when boiling, put in a pot of water that is really boiling and add a little salt. After boiling, rinse with cold water or ice to keep the color nice” [BBPV no. 5]. In the list of Vietnamese soup dishes, sour soup appears most often and is considered a typical dish of the Southern region. Sour soup that is considered delicious must ensure the following conditions: “Harmony between sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavors; vegetables cooked in sour soup are not overcooked, keeping the crispiness of each type; fish meat must be cooked enough to avoid being too tough or too soft; mixed with colorful ingredients” [BBPV no. 5]. To achieve the above requirements, the cook prepares as follows: “In order to cook a standard sour soup, pineapple must be stir-fried first until fragrant, then use noodle soup (because of bone broth, dried shrimp and dried squid). so it's very sweet) cooked in soup is the best. For animals, it's shrimp, Shrimp should use lemon acid. Lemon is only added to the broth when all ingredients are cooked and after turning off the heat to avoid acrid taste, and shrimp, shrimp combined with lemon will be soft. Therefore, after boiling the shrimp, it must be taken out

Taste, Space and Ways to Enjoy Cuisine

Then add the vegetables and lemon juice as the last ingredient. When eating, decorate the surface of the soup to make it look beautiful" [BBPV No. 5].

Nowadays, with the strong development of online information, cooking secrets are widely shared in text and vivid images, helping people to make dishes and drinks quickly. Convenient and delicious in every family's conditions. However, there is still a difference between salted fish fried rice wrapped in lotus leaves at a 3-star restaurant and salted fish fried rice made at home. Processing secrets are accumulated experience from the practical activities of individuals (chefs) and families, contributing to the branding of restaurants and eateries; is one of the factors that make up the culinary culture of Vietnamese people in Vinh Long.


3.2.1 Taste

The taste of Vietnamese people in the Southwest region is very diverse, rich and "round in taste" compared to other regions in the country, but the most prominent is the sweet and fatty taste. Among them, Vinh Long is the sweetest. The sweetness appears in all dishes and is used by the Vietnamese here from granulated sugar, rock sugar, coconut water, animal bones and plants... Besides, they also like the fatty taste of water. coconut milk. The juice is squeezed from grated coconut meat. The first juice is called juice, the juice squeezed the second time and the third time is called juice. For example, when making chicken curry. People add a little water from the coconut and knead it vigorously, squeezing the juice to separate it. Then, add more water to the coconut rice to squeeze out the juice. The broth is put in a pot to cook with the chicken (which has been marinated and sautéed on the stove to firm up the meat) for a certain period of time. When the meat is almost tender, drop sweet potato/taro/sake fruit or sliced ​​banana into the pot. Continue to cook over low heat so that the food absorbs the spices evenly. When the curry pot boils again and the potatoes and meat are tender, add the juice and stir down. Chicken curry cooked according to the Vietnamese style in the Southwest region both retains the aroma of spices and has a characteristic sweet and fatty taste according to the taste of the Vietnamese people - an ethnic group that is always receptive and creative in culinary processing. .

Currently, although the cultivation area is not as large as Ben Tre province (bordering province), coconut trees are also in the key tree group of Vinh Long, providing raw materials for food production facilities and households. . The use of coconut milk in food preparation has become popular, from sweet to savory dishes. Out of 25

There are only two dishes without coconut milk and only 12 traditional Vietnamese tea dishes that we surveyed (see Appendix). The fatty and sweet taste of coconut is also abundant in savory dishes: Braised eel with coconut milk, Duck meat soup with coconut milk, Shrimp (shrimp) with coconut milk, Pumpkin stew with coconut, Chicken curry (this dish) indispensable coconut milk), Braised pork with coconut water, Chicken rotisserie with coconut milk, Shrimp soup with coconut milk, Banh molten (savoury cake) with shrimp and meat. In Ben Tre, there is even a braised fish sauce hot pot dish with coconut milk [56].

Not only do they like to eat fat and sweet, the Vietnamese people of the Southwest region and Vinh Long love to eat all kinds of flavors: spicy, bitter, sour, acrid and salty. In dishes, chili and pepper are two spices that appear commonly in processing methods; both to reduce the fishy smell of animals while increasing the taste stimulation in dishes. Pureed peppercorns when added to soups (except sour soup) made from tubers and fruits such as: Sweet potato soup with silver shrimp, Pumpkin soup with minced meat, Papaya pork hoof soup (with milk benefits), Gourd fish soup snake… enhances the taste of the dish a lot. It is not without reason that in Sing to Me, there is a sentence: "For cooking snakehead fish oil / Add pepper for sweetness, remove onions for aroma".

Eating habits and preferences are also formed and become more and more obvious on the basis of existing conditions. Almost all Vietnamese people can eat fish sauce. In the past, every year when the water was floating or at the end of the year, the Vietnamese people in the West used the surplus fish to make fish sauce to eat during the year. The experience of making fish sauce of the people in the Central region was exchanged with the experience of making fish sauce of the Khmer people. Fish sauceMost of the Vietnamese people in the Southwest region are made from field fish, river fish or sea fish. Such as: snakehead fish, catfish, perch, choke, trout, peg, heart tong, lia thia (copper fish); Sorrel fish, sesame Vinh, Linh, He, Et Moi (river fish); flea, mackerel, rice (sea fish). In addition, there are other kinds of fish sauce made from shrimp: rice husk shrimp (field shrimp), silver earth; or made from cuckoo – a type of crustacean that lives on riverbanks. This type is in the fourth lunar month, when the first rains of the season fall, it is also the time when the cuffs shed their shells, usually at night. Villagers light lamps to collect, wash and make fish sauce.

Fish sauce is both a dish that stimulates the taste buds and can be used with rice, vermicelli, and potatoes, and is also a spice added to food to increase the flavor. For example, the vegetable soup (including naturally growing types: pennywort, pennywort, purslane, amaranth, amaranth, luffa, and even termite mushrooms and straw mushrooms in season) must be seasoned with a little fish sauce. Choke on it to be "in tune". Fish sauce is a food that can be processed in many ways

delicious food. To eat fish sauce the Vietnamese way, the preparation of accompanying vegetables is also very elaborate. If it is a dish of fish sauce stewed with duck seeds and pork belly, it must be eaten with vegetables available in the garden to have a delicious taste: star fruit, star fruit, mango (sour), raw banana, sop shoots, banana ears, mango shoots (astringent). , way leaves, bitter herbs (bitter), chili, green pepper, ginger (spicy) and some herbs such as basil, basil leaves, laksa leaves, and braised cilantro. Or for braised fish sauce (fish sauce hot pot), in addition to the main ingredients which are fish, meat, shrimp, shrimp, snails... there must be 2 accompanying vegetable menus:

Braised fish sauce hotpot eaten with underwater vegetables: water lily, water chives, nipa coconut, cypress, mangium, water hyacinth, sesbania, red water spinach... are vegetables that grow in fields or on sea beds. wow.

Braised fish sauce hotpot is eaten with terrestrial vegetables: bitter herbs, kale leaves, silk shoots, dragon beans, so chopstick flowers, heavenly mustard greens, earthy mustard greens, crab claws, mango shoots, green mango fruit... are natural vegetables or Plant right in the garden or grow along the banks of rivers and canals.

As mentioned, taste is not only the preference for eating things that suit the biological conditions and preferences of an individual or a group of people, but also depends greatly on the natural environment (local products). ), social environment (family, ethnic community) and cultural environment (customs, habits, lifestyle, cultural exchange) in which they live. "If we take the trouble to learn, through food, we can learn more about the customs, habits, lifestyle and even the history of a land and a locality" [153].

3.2.2 Space and enjoyment

Culinary space

Culinary space includes processing space and space for enjoying food and drinks for each individual, family or community. This space depends on existing conditions: facilities (raw material sources, processing and dining premises, implementation tools), time and financial capacity. Workers working in a factory only have a short period of time to eat quickly before starting their shift, so their dining space can be in a canteen or in a corner of the factory or on a bench in the company park. if they can bring food with them. The culinary space of a well-off family on Saturday can be a barbecue on the patio or buying tickets for a buffet at the restaurant.

When describing dining in the West, people often mention the natural factors that impact the culinary space. However, that perspective is based on perspective

According to the concept of the majority, cuisine is always associated with the productive working environment and reflects the general personality of the people of the West. In fact, the rich people before and now have a maid who specializes in cooking. “According to what my grandparents told me. In the past, landlords and employers all had their own chefs, their daily meals consisted of at least 5-6 dishes or more. Each dish is made elaborately with rare seasonal specialties. They ate in a private dining room with servants. Most of them are influenced by French culture, so eating is also very picky!" [BBPV No. 7]. Or just a daily meal in an old-fashioned family in the first half of the twentieth century: “My grandfather was invited by my father (great-grandfather) to come and teach me the zither. He had a private meal with the men in the house above. When teaching until eating, the teacher wears a proper ao dai. My grandmother and children ate downstairs, so it was more comfortable” [BBPV no. 7]. Therefore, the study of culinary culture cannot only look at the mass aspect, but also consider the historical and social aspects to be able to explain why the culinary space of the Southwest region is so different. So rich and diverse.

In daily activities, the majority of Vietnamese people in Vinh Long are very flexible in using natural spaces to prepare and enjoy cuisine. For Vietnamese people, space in culinary culture is considered "a special spice that contributes to making meals more delicious, and eating in the Mekong Delta means eating its space" [33 , pp. 62-63]. In fact, Vietnamese people traditionally do not attach much importance to the processing space but pay great attention to the enjoyment space. Images of country kitchen corners or kitchens in modern houses and apartments or cooking right in the field after a day of harvesting the crop are not as attractive and lively as the space to enjoy food. Because there, "I" has merged with "we", creating a strong connection between individuals and communities, between past and present.

There are several different ways to categorize dining spaces. From the perspective of purpose and organizational conditions, enjoyment spaces can be divided into two types: indoor and outdoor.

Indoor culinary enjoyment space : daily meals can take place on the dining table, on the board, right on the floor, in the hallway, in the living room, in the dining room, in the kitchen...

Outdoor enjoyment space : on the occasion of harvesting crops or after a day of hard work, meals (or drinks) take place right in the garden (after eating).

gardening), pond bank (after catching fish) on the field bank (after farming) or on a canoe enjoying food while watching the moon (when fishing or shrimp fishing on the river).

The space to enjoy food is also associated with the time to enjoy it. If the indoor enjoyment space associated with the daily meal of blood related members (sometimes receiving guests) is usually conducted in an almost fixed period of time, then in the dining space. Staying outdoors for a long or short time depends on the emotions and desires of a group participating in the activity. For example, in a seasonal labor force: “Every year at the end of the year, around the time of the grave, my family gets slapped for Tet. Every time he was slapped, people in the neighborhood came in large numbers. After catching shrimp and fish, my family often organizes meals right on the shore. Grilled snakehead fish, grilled crayfish, fish porridge with a few toads, guava, garden vegetables, a barrel of original wine and a guitar can be drunk until evening. Damn, it's fun!" [BBPV No. 9].

Slapping rice to celebrate Tet is one of the popular activities in gardens and fields in the past and is also a space to enjoy typical cuisine of Southwestern Vietnamese people. “An interesting cultural feature here is that the diners not only include hard-working workers and fish farmers, but everyone present is invited to join the fun, from those waiting to catch fish. to the people watching the game, from adults to shepherd children... with an atmosphere of equality and democracy full of human love" [89, p. 108]. Or after harvesting the Winter-Spring rice crop, farmers (field owners, employees or adjacent field owners) organize a party right on the field, which still smells of straw. The imprint of the time of the reclamation is very well known through the use of nature in the preparation of dishes. They use the branches of the brocade tree to skew the grilled fish; take the straw, banana leaves as fuel; roll up 3 lumps of earth to support the porridge pot; Use banana leaves and fresh lotus leaves to replace plates and cups with young leaves of water lily, mango buds, coriander, laksa leaves, milkweed... A rustic party in an open and warm natural space. village hamlet.

In terms of customs and practices, they can be divided into two types: space for daily enjoyment and space for enjoying important rituals of the community. The space to enjoy daily food in families can be held indoors or outdoors. “When my father was still alive, every once in a while he would ask my mother to spread out a mat in the backyard to eat dinner. When guests come to visit for dinner, they often do the same. Eating outside in the garden is more fun and comfortable than eating at the indoor table. Meals like that usually have a lot of food" [BBPV No. 10]. Thus, for normal activities

The culinary space is also associated with the preferences and conditions of the people who enjoy it. However, the space to enjoy food on the occasion of the Communal Worship Ceremony (Ky Yen Ceremony), the Temple Worship Ceremony (Via Ba) does not depend on personal preferences and conditions but is isolated within the premises of the worshiping establishment. according to a traditional organizational process that is respected and accepted by the community. For the Vietnamese in the North, there is a saying: "One piece in the middle of the village is equal to one kitchen sieve" to show the difference in the social status of people when enjoying food in two different spaces. For the Vietnamese community in the Southwest and Vinh Long, before the ceremony and after the party, there is a saying "before worship, after eating". If you make offerings, you must give them luxuriance and solemnity, while eating must eat well, for fun and everyone has the same right to enjoy. So,

How to enjoy

When discussing the way Vietnamese people enjoy eating, author Tran Van Khe said: "Vietnamese people have three ways of eating: eating comprehensively, eating scientifically and eating democratically" 37 [85, p. 56 ] . In the unity of the Vietnamese culinary culture value system nationwide, the Vietnamese way of eating in Vinh Long province still has its own characteristics. From the perspective of traditional culture, the way to enjoy Vietnamese people has the following characteristics:

Use the five senses when enjoying: For Vietnamese people, eating is not only about being full but also about being delicious. The movement of using hands or using chopsticks to bring food and drinks into the mouth is a basic movement (anyone can do it), but using the five senses and promoting their functions to enjoy is the high level of the skill. eating and drinking. Because: vision helps the eyes see the beauty and appeal of dishes and tables through presentation; the sense of smell helps the nose to smell the typical aroma of dishes and herbs, aromatic sauces, baked goods; taste helps the tongue touch food to determine softness, crispiness, and chewiness and perceive sweet, fatty, fleshy, spicy, acrid, bitter flavors; Hearing helps the ear to hear the sound of the food when chewing in the mouth, such as: the "rompy" sound of rice paper, shrimp crackers, the rustling sound when chewing raw sprouts, cucumbers, etc. Lotus; or the sizzling sound when pouring batter into the pan to make pancakes; The sound of stir-frying when slurping bitter snails, the popping of Champagne cork at the aperitif... These sounds stimulate the desire to satisfy instinctual needs, accompanied by the perception of beauty through decoration and delicious, fragrant feeling from food and drinks

37 Ibid from Nguyen Nha (2009), Vietnamese culinary identity, Thong Tan Publishing House, Hanoi

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