How we Eat

Appears in

Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine And Culture In Southern California's Little Saigon

Little Saigon Cookbook

By Ann Le

Published 2011

  • About
Meals are almost always served family-style, with serving bowls in the center of the table. Diners need only chopsticks, a china rice bowl, and clean hands. With our chopsticks, we pick up bite-size portions of food, one at a time, from one of the main family dishes and place it into our rice bowl. While tipping the bowl toward our mouth, we use the chopsticks to shovel the rice and meat or vegetable in.
The Vietnamese are passionate eaters. We truly enjoy what we eat and are unrepentant about being loud eaters. It may not be proper based on Western etiquette, but people eating loudly with their mouths slightly open, allowing aromas to circulate and enrich each bite, has never bothered me. Our food is audibly juicy. We slurp our noodles and broth and crunch into lettuce, herbs, and pickled vegetables. We gnaw on bones and we pick tiny fish bones out of our mouths with our hands, discarding the bones into little napkins that we leave beside our rice bowls. It's all part of enjoying every bite.