While in Hoi An, known for its culinary delights, Tim and I took a cooking lesson with the Morning Glory Restaurant, which focuses on making authentic Vietnamese dishes, including classic street food or dishes cooked by the owner's mother or grandmother.
The cooking lesson involved a trip to Hoi An's central market, and, much to Tim's dismay, also involved wearing the traditional conical hat:
I love market trips... I could look at piles of pretty fruits and veggies pretty much all day.
Most people rolled up to this market on motorbikes or bicycles and bought very little- only enough for the day- since the herbs and other fresh stuff gets wilty by noon, nevermind by the next day.
Our market guide showed us some dragonfruit while Tim sampled the Vietnamese durian:
Perusing the goods:
Morning glory! And the special cutter tool thingy that goes with it (we are now proud owners):
Weapons of mass destruction (or just lots of Vietnamese cooking implements). Tim and I bought 3 of these cool peeler/knife things in Hoi An, and then I stupidly forgot to remove them from my carry-on when we flew to Ho Chi Minh City several days later, almost instigating an international incident. Needless to say we no longer have those particular knives, but I bought some more in Saigon and thankfully remembered to check them.
I love that this water lady is hamming it up, whereas you can practically see the eyeroll from the guy lounging on his motorbike:
Excuse me, I'm just gonna set my ducks down here for a sec. Ok, done. I'm outtie. TTYL.
I like the bamboo clip that they used to keep the greens in order (in the hand of the lady wearing the helmet):
Our guide, showing us the banana flower (complete with tiny baby bananas inside), which gets shredded, soaked in water (see bowl 2 photos down) and then turned into a tasty salad.
I like this lady, just sellin' clams, ciggie hanging out of her mouth:
Tim assesses the food safety issues in the seafood section of the market:
The fresh noodle lady! The brown ones in the front are used for Hoi An's famous cao lau:
Tiger balm! Hoi An was rife with kids and young women trying to sell you all varieties of knick-knacks- bracelets, old coins, mini-puppets... as they ran through their list, we turned them down on each item, and they all inevitably ended with a despondent... "Tiger balm....?" It was their last ditch effort every time.
Aaaand, finally, what we cooked back at the restaurant:
1) Shrimp-stuffed cabbage soup, which the chef said is also called mother-in-law soup because it's the first dish a newly married woman is supposed to cook for her mother-in-law to impress her... the two little dumplings are supposed to represent the husband and wife. I told Tim he had to make it for the Real Martha next time we saw her.
2) Fresh spring rolls with shrimp and pork... mmmmm.
3) The always delicious, super crispy banh xeo, which is essentially a crispy rice flour and mung bean crepe with a little bit of pork and shrimp, topped with bean sprouts and a handful of herbs, and then all wrapped up in a piece of rice paper:
4) Lastly, the tasty green mango salad. Tim asked me to show both a photo of mine (top) and his (bottom) so you all could come to the conclusion that his presentation was better than mine.