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Lonely Planet: World Food: Vietnam [Paperback]

Richard Sterling , Tinh-My Hoang
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2000 Lonely Planet World Food
The definitive culinary guide to Vietnam. With tantalising photography throughout and written in an entertaining, opinionated and contemporary style, this guide is intended to be the benchmark for the country's cuisine. This pocket-sized guide includes everything to do with eating and drinking in Vietnam.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications (1 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186450028X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1864500288
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 732,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"Historians like to say that geography is fate. Geography is also cuisine..." Vietnam is actually shaped like a don ganh, a bamboo pole with a basket of rice at each end--the rice-growing Red River and Mekong Deltas with 2400 km of coastline between. Inevitably, Vietnamese food has two constants: rice and nuoc mam (fermented fish sauce). Equally distinctive is the pungent aroma and ying yang balance of the five Chinese flavours (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, hot). World Food: Vietnam also explores how the French influence has been incorporated. Salad baguettes are authentic, yet sprinkled with fish sauce; café au lait is drunk with sweet condensed milk; snails are served, but can be as large as golf balls. In Danang, you can find Asia's finest ice cream parlour.

Instead of recommending upmarket restaurants, the guide refreshingly enthuses over specific roadside vendors such as Hanoi's che stalls (sweetened mung bean desert) or purveyors of infamous cha gio (spring rolls) and pho, "seductively delicious" beef noodle soup, as addictive as tobacco. Simplicity rules. The "Don't Miss" section suggests an ear of sweetcorn at Hoi An's nightmarket, locally brewed street bia hoi, or the magical native dragonfruit. Author Richard Sterling also wrote The Fearless Diner and he tracks down delicacies like grilled geckos and fruit bat.

World Food: Vietnam helps you choose where, when, how and what to eat when you arrive in a town. Incorporating maps, recipes and phrase book, it navigates Vietnam's regional variations and explains etiquette. The text is rich in culinary legends, myths, riddles and poetry reflecting the Vietnamese passion for food. --Sarah Champion

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First Sentence
Vietnamese cuisine is the sum of many parts. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This book was a complete delight! I am going to work in Vietnam, so have been bought several books on the country etc, so when I saw that it was on the food, I thought "this is going to be boring"! how wrong I was! it is not only filled with recipies and food details, it was filled with short factual pieces on culture, people and sights. There is also basic language listings and what's hot and not in Vietnam. Another unique touch, was short experiences by travellers who had been to Vietnam which was so helpful and enlightening! [especially what not to eat and what's ok on the western stomach!] It is also filled with fantastic colour photographs and drawings, which is so relevant as I now know what I order to eat should look like!! I found also that this book is the one book I probably will take with me to Vietnam and keep as a reference on my person at all times. It is small and square, so it is easy to fit into my pocket, but filled with totally relevant, day to day, realistic facts that I am going to encounter daily. Thank you Lonely Planet, a totally delightful book that is going to make my life in Vietnam easier!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A surprisingly colourful and informative read. This book is ideal for anyone who has experienced 'proper' Vietnamese food, that is 100%; Not the 50%chinese, 50%vietnamese version. It allows a person to have a deeper understanding of how aromas, flavours and textures can be crucial in Vietnamese cuisine. What can be better than the favourite breakfast of 'Pho'. Those lucky few, who have had the chance to experience this breakfast will know that it beats cornflakes by miles! A bit of a shame that it did not go on to explain about the numerous variations depending on the many regions that make up Vietnam. A person with an in depth knowledge of Vietnamese food can immediately tell which regions the food is from by just the aroma. Other than that it is a good introduction for all beginners!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good companion piece - but not a cookbook on its own 9 May 2000
By Jadepearl - Published on Amazon.com
The book is well put together but it is a more chatty version of a food guide. In its tone and topic it humanizes the Vietnamese via the vehicle of food removing stereotypes. It covers topics that other Vietnamese cookbooks do not cover very much such as, etiquette and placement of items in a greater meal context. Which for the traveler and non traveler is a very good thing.
However it is NOT a cookbook though it has some recipes. It's main focus is to enable you, the traveler, to experience Vietnamese food on location. Which this book does very well.
I found things somewhat factually wrong - the dog meat section. Though it tries to make you feel better about eating dog meat by saying that the dogs' lives are happy until their quick death -- certain instances of this are not true. Look up Temple's book on modern Vietnam _Shadows and Wind_ in describing how the dogs were beaten to death for tenderizing purposes to celebrate a New Year meal. This method may disturb some people but the ancient Romans practiced similiar methods (see Plutarch's essay on vegetarianism). Anyway, it is a flaw of fact.
This book proves to be a wonderful companion to other books such as, Trang's _Authentic Vietnamese_. It provides, in its small pages,information on modern food, history, and background information on Vietnam in a compact way that is well written and succinct. The photographs and layout are very well done creating a very pretty book. In conjunction with _Lonely Planet Vietnam_ it is indispensable.
For the cookbook enthusiast it is a good item for a collection emphasizing southeast Asian cuisine. It is a good source for background information and gives a more modern slant on things. It is a companion piece but not the main stay of a Vietnamese cookbook collection which it was never intended.
A good book and MUCH better than the Food of _insert cuisine here_ Periplus series.
1) compact and succint; 2) highly informative; 3) maps and amusing anectdotes; 4) good layout and design; 5) few recipes but recipes are very sound;
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent information 30 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Vietnam is an extremely food conscious culture. You should definately read this book before you go or just for all the information included. The etiquette pointers are great, but luckily the Vietnamese are a pretty laid back people and don't expect you to know all of their customs. I would trust the rest of the series based on this book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine fun book 3 Jun 2000
By Jennifer Brizzi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a food writer planning a trip to Vietnam (for personal, not food-related reasons), I found this book to be an excellent introduction to the culture and cuisine. I may never cook any of the recipes in it, but it's helped me know what to look for when I go, and to anticipate my trip even more. I thought it was very well-written. Sterling's sense of adventure and good living are apparent in the guide in an infectious, inviting way. He is judgemental about no one but the foreign young people who go to Vietnam to eat fake burgers and wiener schnitzel instead of the light, beautiful food. And the photographs are as compelling as the writing. Buy this book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Culinary Roadmap to Vietnam Even for the Non-Traveler 12 July 2006
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Any traveler worth his or her salt knows the best and easiest way to get to the heart of a country is to experience firsthand the culinary delights that country has to offer. Lonely Planet has figured this out by publishing a series of fine, pocket-sized books under their "World Food" series, and the Vietnam tome is one of their best thanks to the zeal of the author, Berkeley-based food adventurer Richard Sterling. This book was an invaluable guide for me when I visited that epicurean paradise five years ago as he covers the vast landscape of food and drink there. Sterling moves fluidly from the culture and history of Vietnamese cuisine through the staples and specialties you would find in a Vietnamese kitchen to the nuances of regional fare, whether it's the heavy influence of Chinese cuisine in the North or the use of exotic tropical fruit in Southern dishes.

I particularly like the sections that focus on celebrating with food, the delicacies you find in street kiosks and the chapter on the bold palate, which includes dishes that use toads, cobras, rodents and of course, dogs. Obviously not all the food is meant to be savored by everyone, but this provides a comprehensive, easy-to-read guide to the variety of tastes and sensations to be experienced including a definitive culinary dictionary, a quick-reference glossary and useful phrases when you order food and drink there. Sterling includes recipes, city maps highlighting his favorite eateries, and the "Faces of Gastronomy", which highlights local chefs and food experts. In fact, when I visited Hoi An, I visited one of them based on the author's recommendation, Miss Vy, who owns the Mermaid Restaurant. I took one of her four-hour cooking classes and was able to discover for myself many of the epicurean joys found in the pages of this helpful book. If Sterling's knowledgeable prose is not enough, the wonderful photographs should convince you. Regardless of whatever guidebook you purchase for more general information, no trip to Vietnam should be without this one. Armchair travelers will rejoice as well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs up to this book 18 Dec 2005
By K. Kojima - Published on Amazon.com
We just went to Vietnam this year. The book was very helpful to identify and discuss various food items in Vietnamese cuisine. It is also small and easily "packable". It seems it is not intended to be a listing of restaurants, and some of those that are listed do not exist anymore. Nevertheless, we still found the book useful. It does seem to be written from an Australian point of view, if that makes any difference to you.
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