A tradition from my past has been revived, a memory of simpler times triggered - right here in chaotic downtown Hanoi of all places.
Growing up, the bird or beast would be shoved in the oven before Mum jammed us all in the car in our Sunday best for the weekly round of genuflecting, sitting, kneeling and standing. These were simpler days when kids followed their parents' directives, went to church, said their prayers, took communion, asked no questions. More religious days.
I'm more 'spiritual' these days. More like my father, who would stay home tinkering with something in his shed, drinking beer, trying not to forget to put the spuds in the oven prior to our return.
Memories...gravy...feeding the fatty bits to the dog...it all came rushing back when Tracey, Linh and the gang at the Hanoi Cooking Centre instituted the Sunday roast in their regular calendar of events. I was present at the inaugural roast last Sunday, and a leisurely affair it turned out to be. Amazing how relaxing a big food occasion can be when you have absolutely no involvement in its preparation.
I was seated, lubricated to a mellow state and enjoying the company of friends, my serviette strategically placed for gravy spillage. Deep inside I was salivating.
The first course was a soup of watercress served with a wicked crisp twist of parmesan pastry and surprise lumps of chorizo sausage beneath the surface. The Sunday roast in 70s Melbourne suburbia was never this posh. A nicoise salad rounded out the starter options. I don't think we even knew words like chorizo and nicoise in those days.
The vocabulary of the roast was more familiar. Lamb, pork, chicken, spuds, pumpkin, beans, broccoli, apple sauce, mint jelly...I knew what they meant. And in the Hanoi Cooking Centre's breezy courtyard, they appeared plentiful on my plate at about 1.30pm last Sunday. I went for the pig option, greedily thinking I may score a nice slab of crunchy crackling. The vegetables were cooked perfectly, beans bitey, broccoli and cauliflour doused in white sauce, spuds browned on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
More nostalgia has just surfaced. I didn't like beans as a kid and I remember one occasion when I was very young, lining my gums with the beans on my plate, excusing myself from the table to visit the bathroom, where I swiftly deposited them where they belonged.
We didn't get dessert if we hadn't polished off all vegetable content from the plate. Bribery was a concept well understood very early in our household.
I ate every morsel last Sunday too. To get at this pudding, I would have eaten beans by the kilo.
Two courses - USD$20 (380,800VND, AUD$22.20), three courses USD$23 (440,000VND, AUD$25.50)
Hanoi Cooking Centre
44 Chau Long St
+84 4 3715 0088
Next Sunday Roast - 28th March