The mercury's up. Cooking is out of the question. Today, tossing together a salad would've put a bead of sweat on the brow.
So I didn't.
A bloke in the Old Quarter did it for me. He's got this souped-up little glass cabinet on wheels out front of his shop. It's loaded up with plastic plates, salad ingredients and bottles of liquid all ready for some kind of street food grand prix. He's set to take pole position when I pull up for some take-away salad, having had a brainwave to save myself from a sure-fire meltdown in the kitchen.
From under the bonnet of his cabinet, he tongs out a mess of shredded papaya and carrot, jamming it into clear take-away bags, on top of which Vietnam's fine green leaves are placed. I sense a healthy summer salad signal. Jenny Craig and Weightwatchers would approve.
Dried and cured beef is clipped finely with the scissors into another bag. Crushed peanuts, too. A third bag contains the dressing, a process which conjured up images of Professor Weirdo and his monster formula, the balancing of the flavours vital in its success. Fish sauce, soy sauce, water, lime juice, sugar and chili go in with effortless precision. He's done this before.
I've eaten this before. It's known as nom.
Right now, the nom bags are chilling in the fridge downstairs. I'm going to race down there, tip their contents into a bowl and fork them into my gob.
Two serves of nom - 30,000VND (USD$1.86, AUD$2.22)
Long Vi Dung
Nom Thit Bo Kho
107 Ma May