Never Get Out Of The Boat: Pt 2
We don't leave the restaurant until at 3pm when, already legless, we drive for 45mins across even more of those treacherous routes (losing someone whose car breaks down) to another even more remote "restaurant" to continue drinking. A more bucolic atmosphere here, surrounded by canals and semi-jungle, this eating place is hidden at the back of one of the more sturdy huts by the canals - I'm in the middle of nowhere as far as I can see. At least the first restaurant was in a village of sorts.
Another type of chicken soup, the "walking" (grabbed as it walked past?) chicken, was presented, identical and equally awful with the last one, inedible apart from lots of vegetable bits softening in the soup. The meal was dubiously augmented by some rubber things on sticks called "bird", that the waitresses had been cooking on small charcoal fires - a BBQ made of a wire mesh over two bricks on the ground - when we arrived.
Here be dragons too, if you once believed all Vietnamese food is delicious.
Un-chewable bits, bones, gristle, dropped vegetables or meat are spat or strewn to the floor under the table, same as at the last place. Finger to his left nostril, a Doctor expels his right nostril's mucous contents onto the floor as well. A dog noses in to grab his share of the varied offerings.
The toilet was over the waist-high fence amongst the rushes at creek-side.
No photo please.
Every sip of your share of crates and crates of Heineken has to be toasted with everybody. So when one person wants a drink, everyone has to have one. If you want to be friendly with the waitress, you ask her to do your drinking for you in one of the glass-clinking toasts. A strange custom more honoured in the breach in my opinion as the waitresses are getting tipsy, too. Some mild flirting. Everyone there has a wedding ring.
To make conversation (I have hardly spoken these last days as no-one has any English except my distributor) I ask pleasantly if Vietnamese women make better wives or better girlfriends?
After my jocular question is translated, there is a morose silence. "Both," says my distributor eventually and so the drinking resumes...
To Be Continued...
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
Ah. Chicken. Reminds me of the roast? chicken I had in Nairobi. Of the choices on the menu it seemed the least likely to kill me. We have all sampled rock cakes, this was probably best described as rock chicken. Far too tough for my tender soft weak western teeth. The consistency of a car tyre and about as palatable.
The entire third world has a different concept of the chicken as food to what we do. For a poor country a chicken is a scrawny, wiry, scavenging beast who delivers eggs - their only really edible product - or the male can be used for competitive fighting and hence gambling. The plucked corpse of said beast may be useful as a flavoring agent for broth when fish is unavailable.
Our soft, plump, genetically-modified, hormonally-enhanced, antibiotically-cosseted, cannabalistic, unexercised couch potato of a chicken, all white breast (white because of the lack of exercise) and juicy thick thigh is a Frankensteinian, scientific abomination that tastes so much better.