Guidebook Then there’s southern-style food ...

Sense of Place

Then there’s southern-style food ...

“Things get sweeter in the south,” says Christina’s blog. “You can even go so far as to say that the food here is a general reflection of the people in the region -- they appear to be more laid back and happy … the dishes down under are lighter and much smoother on the tongue, taking tips from Cambodia and Thailand.” The South draws more upon Khmer and Thai influences and its “hotter climate means more emphasis on salads, grilled meats and so-called ‘cooling foods’," explains SBS Broadcasting.

Further south, the use use of spices and sauces is “more prevalent,” notes Jimmy Eats World. “It is also the close proximity to the fertile regions of the Mekong that result in an abundance of fruit, vegetables and an array of herbs that make their way onto the dining table.” Sugar and sugarcane are used more often than in the north, says Food By Country. “A popular dish in the south is cha tom (shrimp wrapped in sugarcane).” And because of the the tropical climate, “foods in the south are cooked for a shorter length of time than in the north” -- they’re often “quickly grilled or eaten raw.”  

The southern version of goi cuon (spring rolls) “might ruin you for fresh spring rolls forever,” says Be My Travel Muse. “Filled with thin strips of barbecued pork, star fruit and green banana, it’s a sweet-savory mouth explosion that will send you reeling … dipped into some hearty peanut sauce, it reaches a new stratosphere of deliciousness.”    

Hu tieu (pork and seafood doodle soup) is to South Vietnam “as pho is to North Vietnam,” says Vicky Pham. “While there are quite a bit of variations to this soup,” explains Street Food Saigon, “what unifies it is the broth … lighter in body and sweeter in taste, a combination of pork along with the bones, dried squid, rock sugar and vegetables such as onion and carrot are placed in a stock and left to simmer for hours.”

Banh cam is a particularly tasty street snack in the south, says Vietnamenu. “It's a deep fried ball of glutinous rice dough filled with sweet mung bean … trust me, try it and you'll see how delicious it is.” Banh cam is “crispy, yet chewy,”with sesame seeds adorning the outside and giving it “a touch of nuttiness (both in look and taste).”

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