Last week I attended an event in London, the inaugural Chowzter Awards for the World's Seven Tastiest Fast Feasts. Chowzter CEO, Jeffrey Merrihue, took an office argument about pizza, mulled it over with some friends and came up with the ludicrous idea of finding the world's best snacks. Not fast food, not fine dining but food made with integrity...from the heart. Then he recruited some of the world's premier food bloggers to help him.
And he travelled (and ate) a lot!
In December last year, he rolled into Hanoi. The god and I showed him around, you might say. He was on a mission to try exemplars of ALL of Hanoi's street food dishes, even if only just a bite. For six hours, we fulfilled his wish, sipping through the various noodle soups, including phở, chowing down on bánh (cakes) both savoury and sweet, introducing the odd challenge, like chicken cooked in a coke can...climaxing somewhere in the middle of the day with Hanoi's renowned barbeque dish, bún chả. Jeffrey was impressed. His reaction to bún chả continues to resonate, so much so that, at our recent rendezvous in London, he referred to many of the world's other dishes as percentiles of bún chả.
And then, at the awards ceremony, Hanoi was announced as 'World's Foodiest City' for 2013. I accepted the award. I did so on behalf of the city's amazing street food vendors, who have been feeding me for eleven years. They don't get much credit for what they do. Today, we shared the trophy with them.
Take a bow, Hanoi Street Food Vendors!