Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

As I've mentioned before, New Orleans is home to an outrageously large number of Vietnamese immigrants. I love this for three very good reasons 1. Vietnamese people are awesome. 2. I could probably live off of pho (traditional Vietnamese soup) for the rest of my life. 3. Banh mi (Vietnamese Po Boy) is spectacular.

So of course, there have been many events around town this week to celebrate Tet Nguyen Dan, the Vietnamese New Year (which actually is on Wednesday night). The largest Vietnamese Church in the city threw an enormous Tet festival this weekend, which I of course attended.

They had live performances by famous Vietnamese singers, carnival games with gold fish, and so much foooood!!!!!! Besides pho and banh mi, they had many delicacies I had never seen before. A very popular item at the fair was the sugar cane juice, made right before your eyes by an adorable man who grinded the sugar cane stalk through a metal contraption.

I didn't try the sugar cane juice, but a very sweet man bought me a pork kabob in honor of the holiday... I told you Vietnamese people are awesome!

I also tried Vietnamese donuts, which look and taste almost exactly like beignets (minus the powdered sugar).

Finally, I saved the most extreme for last, I ate balut. Balut is a fertilized, partially developed duck egg. It is a delicacy in many different Asian countries, including Vietnam. I had heard about these eggs before, and quite honestly found merely the thought of them repulsing, but surrounded by a table of encouraging Vietnamese people I threw caution to the wind and took a bite.

That's right, this ex-vegetarian ate a partially developed duck embryo. Disgusting, but the crowd was very proud. It was definitely worth it, I now officially have street cred with the Vietnamese community, and have gained a little bit more legitimacy as a food blogger. I can't say that I enjoyed it though.

Something about the mysterious crunching... not good. The temperature was also disturbing. Not quite hot or luke warm, more like body temperature. And the black veins. Ughh.

It is a gustatory investigation that I will not explore again. Glad I tried it, but I don't recommend it.

Warning: If you're struggling to keep your lunch down you may not want to keep reading. My friend Eric (the guy laughing at me in the picture above) is even more adventurous with strange foods than I am. He is a huge fan of balut and jumped at the opportunity to order "Vietnamese Pizza," also known as blood soup. This gorey dish is composed of congealed goat or goose blood and cartilage, served cold like jello, and topped with liver. Even Eric had some trouble getting the first bite down. Apparently our bodies natural response to eating blood is the gag reflex, who knew??

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