While back in America last winter, I was struck by the contrast in eating habits compared with the more healthy food in Vietnam. It is, of course, an oversimplification for a very sophisticated and diverse cuisine, but Vietnamese food can be characterized as using a lot of fresh vegetables that are not covered up by heavy sauces.
In America, I tend to have a bowl of cereal with empty calories for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch with a large dose of meat and a few vegetables, and a large meat portion for dinner, including hamburgers and steaks. Potatoes in various forms are often added to the dinner, and occasionally a vegetable, but at no where near the percentage common in my Vietnamese diet.
In Vietnam, I eat a bowl of soup every morning for breakfast (ăn sáng) that always features a lot of green leafy vegetables to add.
The soup pictured above is bún bò huế, and I add all of the vegetables offered in the two extra bowls. On other mornings (the place I go to offers a different soup each morning), I have bánh canh, phở bò, bún mọc, hủ tiếu mì, or bò kho. All come with large portions of green leafy fresh vegetables that I add to the soup.
Lunch (ăn trưa) usually consists of a meat dish and a main vegetable dish, along with rice, and vegetable soup at the end.
On this day it was pork to be rolled in the lettuce and mint leaves, and then dipped in the fermented sauce. On most days, the meat dish is fish in various forms.
We have a wonderful cook in our office, and we all gather for lunch in the office together.
Our neighborhood is not very interesting for lunch places, so it is best to have lunch in the office. Without having to take time for traveling out of the office, a half hour is left for a good nap, which has made me a much more productive person throughout the afternoon.
On this day, the main dish was fried silkworms, which are very tasty.
The silkworms have a very distinctive taste and after-taste.
At home in the evening, my wife usually keeps dinner (ăn tối) light, which is fine with me.
On this evening, we had bánh cuốn, a rice-based very wide flat noodle (hidden underneath all of the vegetables) along with some chả, a processed meat consisting of pressed pork or fish.
We always have different fruits at lunch time and after dinner. I know I feel a lot better while in Vietnam, and I am sure it is because of the better diet. On the other hand, my wife and Vietnamese friends keep poking my ample tummy and suggesting I do something about it. Can't agree to cut off the nightly beer, though. But I have taken up walking to work and back every day -- we'll see if that helps.