Monday, June 9, 2008

It's Official: Vietnam Has It All

Three days ago I was talking about different foods to Huyen. Huyen, like many Vietnamese people, thinks that Vietnamese food is not only the only healthy food in the world, but also the only good food in the world. For example this is a typical conversation:

Ben: Huyen have you ever had a hamburger?
Huyen: Yes. I don't like. It's very fatty.
Ben: Huyen have you ever had pizza?
Huyen: I don't like. It's fatty.
Ben: Do you want to get Indian food?
Huyen: I don't like.
Ben: Have you ever had it?
Huyen: No but it's unhealthy.

The other day I made Huyen a bet that if she could get an A on a listening section of the midterm test I gave my upper Elementary level teenagers I would buy her sushi (basically I played a tape twice and she had to answer twenty questions about it). However, if she scored a C or lower she would have to buy me sushi. Well, she got a C which means I'm owed sushi. However, Huyen told me that instead of going to the restaurant she would look up the recipe for sushi and, "cook it" for me.

With her love of only eating/knowing Vietnamese food she reminds me of my sister in fourth grade who would only eat hamburgers for breakfast, lunch in dinner. I can only hope that Huyen will one day have the same reaction Hannah had after maxing out on one meal: she'll never want to eat it again. Okay, that's not completely true since I still love Vietnamese food.

Anyway, the point is, we were talking about food and I mentioned bagels. Of course Huyen had never heard of bagels (and had a hard time pronouncing it). Well as soon as I mentioned bagels I couldn't get them out of my mind. I was like Bubba in Forest Gump: "Huyen there are so many types of bagels. There's poppy bagels. Sesame bagels. Raisin bagels. Pumpernickel bagels. Onion bagels. Garlic bages. Everything bagels. Salt bagels. Even chocolate chip bagels!" For the next four eight hours I kept thinking about hot bagels smothered with white fish salad or cream cheese and lox. I kept thinking that if I was home in Jersey I could expect to wake up with a fresh bagel waiting for me on the kitchen table care of Mother August taking an early morning drive for her son to the bagel store.

Well, on Saturday afternoon while I was taking a breather on the ultimate frisbee sidelines, I happened to blurt out: "I would kill for a bagel." The fact that it was on my mind in the middle of a frisbee match shows exactly how obsessed I've been. Luckily my friend Laura who has been in town for a while overheard me and said, "Go to Puku. They have bagels." Turns out there is a New Zealand breakfast spot that is extremely well known with the expats. The next morning I met Laura there for brunch and ate this:

Sure, it's no New Jersey bagel but damn it was good. The bagel itself was sort of just thick bread with a whole in the middle but the cream cheese and the lox were amazing. Oh yeah, see that plate of food in the background? That was my second breakfast. All in all, this was one of my most expensive meals I've eaten in Vietnam (two breakfast plates and a fresh squeezed pineapple juice for exactly $10) but it was well worth it.

Ironically later in the day I told Huyen how I found a bagel and she said: "You found a bagel and didn't take me? You're so selfish!"