I'm sure we all have our own little eating disorders. Mine involves sticky rice. I love it and I hate it. When I'm in the mood to eat it, no other dish will suffice. I will not be persuaded along any noodle route when the sticky rice compulsion takes hold. Though afterwards, there is a tinge of regret.
But I don't vomit.
You see I consider myself to be a healthy eater for the most part but my search for just a smidge of nutritional value in this dish is futile. Nothing green in sight. Morgan Spurlock got sick on his supersize me diet and if I were to take on a similar experiment with sticky rice, I might find myself in a spot of bother, too.
Even after one occasional serve, I'm beating myself up about it. I watch as the layers of the dish are assembled and wonder about the physiological effects on my body. The rice is the mainstay, packed into the bottom of the bowl from huge bamboo baskets covered with sheets of industrial grade plastic, cloth and other miscellaneous insulating blankets which keep it hot. This ingredient doesn't perturb me. I can burn it off. But then what looks like a big yellow ball of uncooked pastry is shaved over the rice. Actually, I think it is mung beans (dau xanh) pounded and rounded, another source of carbohydrates but also protein. All good if one is training for the Hawaiian Ironman event...
...which I'm not!
And then oil is squirted on it. Not extra virgin like Jamie glugs over his risotto! No. It comes out of a re-used la Vie bottle in a thick stream through a crude perforation in its white cap. Leaves a lovely sheen on the food as I imagine it in my arteries, all the wrong fats surging toward my heart. Deep fried shallots and chicken with the skin on are added to top things off.
I reel around, salivating one second and experiencing conniptions about what I'm about to do to my body the next.
A smorgasboard of processed meat slabs, deep fried boiled eggs and other oily treats comes into view. There are no healthy choices here. I block it out.
I will eat salad tomorrow.
Xoi Ga Pho Co
Cnr. Nguyen Huu Huan & Hang Mam