Sunday, January 11, 2009

Market finds in Vietnam

Roadside plant stands at a less touristed market near Hanoi. It was almost Christmas so Poinsettias were everywhere. I was hoping to find some local ornamental plants but all I could see were pots of foreign exotics.

Nestled between bottles of red wine and whisky, this is Vietnam's very own King Cobra wine. I must say this is the most impressive specimen I had seen there and the shop owner showed great pride in this as well. He explained to me in some length about its benefits, which I could not understand much other than it makes you strong and virile....what else......

Vining gourds, vegetables and herbs placed beside pots of flowering roses.

The large gourd of Momordica cochinchinensis is rather uncommon since it is only harvested between November to January and is known locally as Gac. Its orange pulp is used to make an orange oily sticky rice. Supposedly, it contains a lot of useful fats called lycopene and ten times as much beta-carotene as carrots. Sadly, the use of artificial colours and its limited availability had dimished its use in the local recipes.

Some kind of Stephania, another useful herb supposedly containing anti-cancer compounds.

Now this is the one I was hankering for. The "Welsel" of these coffee beans actually means "weasel", but in truth most likely some kind of civets. The coffee beans were fed to these creatures from which the partially digested crap was collected from their behinds and somehow processed into these gourmet coffee. I tried the Arabica and it was heavenly - strongly aromatic yet with none of the sour aftertaste typically associated with most coffee. I must say, its good to the last dropping....

4 comments:

Claude said...

The only thing I'm familiar with is the vining gourds... here, they're commonly available in Mexican markets and are called chayote squash... they're neither a gourd or a squash, they're actually a single giant seed. I grew one once, and it covered the entire fence in my backyard. Very nice, but I had no idea what to do with all those chayote...

Hermes said...

I love flower markets but I was surprised Pointsettia's were a big thing in Vietnam. I'd heard of Civit Coffee but glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Hort Log said...

Hi Claude, thanks for the clarification....I think its edible if you can find some indegenous recipes.

And Mr Brown, yes I still remember the coffee, its very good. But another brand I bought from the airport at half the price tasted awful....

Titania said...

Every post is utterly interesting
Strange foods and even stranger wines and the coffee...well I buy fair trade and it is a wonderful, strong coffee mellow not sour. I don't like sour tasting coffee, I think it is a cheap brand, perhaps mixed with something else.

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