VIETNAM IS PRACTICALLY THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD IN WHICH I CAN BE BOTHERED TO EAT BREAKFAST. In other countries I will sleep right through it, right up until noon if I can manage it, and then I will often skip lunch as well. Not so in Vietnam... no matter what time I hit the sack, I will almost always drag myself out of bed for breakfast. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, I usually stay in a hotel when I am in the country, and an in-house breakfast is part of the deal. It is worth my while to take advantage of it. But they put on a free breakfast breakfast too at my Mum and Dad's house in Australia, and they usually have to force me to take part. Soggy cereals have never really appealed to me (although Vegemite on toast is palatable I suppose!) A pity about the lousy coffee (at my Mum and Dad's house at least). Here in Japan where I live now they have a wonderful cuisine, and they don't mess with soggy Cornflakes or boiled eggs at breakfast time. That said, I am not generally up for a whole bowl of plain rice so early in the morning, nor I am up for a tray of pickled vegetables. The steaming green tea and miso soup I could guzzle, but I wouldn't want to have to bother boiling and cooking it. So I choose to sleep, and wait until dinner, when sushi comes to the table.
Skipping breakfast is of course bad for your health. I am glad that Vietnam taught me that, to wake up and smell the coffee.
Condensed milk doesn't have a high status in most of the world these days, but in Vietnam it seems to fit in perfectly. It provides the soft sweet counterweight to the bitter strength of the coffee, a white yang to the coffee's black yin. The name of this product Hoàn Hảo means "smoothly done".
Chicken curry with carrots and potato and spring rolls, fried rice with lettuce and beautiful bread... Vietnamese hotel breakfasts are always a veritable smorgasbord. The boiled eggs are so edible that you can, quite literally, eat the shells as well (they must have soaked them in salt or something to soften the shells.) Reams of raw rice paper studded with sesame seeds make a great treat, especially when you dump a bunch of it into the chilli-powered fish sauce.
Chicken curry is one of the great unknown treasures of Vietnamese cuisine, and makes ideal breakfast food. For the best effect, dip a chunk of Vietnamese bread into the curry until the innards go soft.
Emerald Hotel: Sumptious spread, just don't leave money on the table or trust the taxi drivers that wait outside.
Congee rice porridge,
The term op-la is from the French oeuf au plat
d the shape of this sandwich.